By Tom Gara

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Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors stock was down about 2.5% today, after the New York Times published a report over the weekend documenting a pretty nightmarish experience trying to drive one of the company’s flagship new Model S sedans from Washington, D.C. to New York.

The story played on the most basic perception problem facing electric cars: what happens when you’re running low on power? While a gas station can be found within a short drive of pretty much anywhere in America, electric car charging stations are much fewer and farther between.

And while you can plug your Tesla into any regular old power outlet, it’s not going to do you much good: from a regular old-fashioned electrical socket a Tesla will get about five miles worth of driving range per hour of charging.

That, of course, is as good as useless for someone driving any kind of significant distance. Commuters who leave their cars charging at night and drive a regular distance each day will be fine with the Tesla’s range when fully charged: from 160-300 miles, depending on the kind of battery you have. But if you’re on the road, driving longer distances or spending more time away from a charging station, these details matter.

That’s where the recent NYT story stings, with reporter John Broder detailing a DC-NYC road trip gone wrong: the available miles remaining fell faster than the miles being driven, the battery’s charge fell by more than two-thirds while he slept at night, and after running out of charge on the side of the road, even the tow truck that comes to collect his crippled Tesla struggles to deal with the dead battery refusing to disengage the parking brake.

It all sounds pretty awful, and Tesla stock took a hit this morning in response. But Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the story is misleading — “fake” in his words — and that he has the data to prove it, which will soon be posted on the company’s blog.

Read more in Corporate Intelligence.

By Tom Gara