Yesterday’s outrageous attack on electric vehicles didn’t come from the GOP (for a change), but from a seemingly disinterested blogger, one Michael Degusta. His charges against Tesla include suggesting that its cars will have “eventual, inevitable, catastrophic battery failure,” lambasting the company for poor warranty service, accusing Tesla of tracking its owners without consent, and intimating that the company is not only failing to provide owners with proper notice of this phenomenon but also covering up the whole sordid affair. Serious stuff, this post of his that’s rippled through the automotive web with the force of a 185-kW electric motor.
Yet all may not be what it seems. Late yesterday, an e-mail surfaced on Green Car Reports, in which a disgruntled owner who bricked his battery pleads his case to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The e-mail, sent by one Max Drucker, CEO of Santa Barbara-based Social Intelligence Corp, is a clear plea for assistance in the repair of his car. Drucker identifies his car as Roadster #340, the same car that serves as the primary example in Degusta’s piece. Drucker has since spoken with Autopia about his car, admitting that he drove his Roadster down to a 25 percent charge, then left it parked for six weeks, something the owner’s manual specifically warns against.
Now, let’s turn our attention towards Degusta, who noted at the end of his screed, “No one has paid me to write this article” and pointed out that his blog is not advertising-supported. That’s an important point, as it’s clearly designed to give readers the impression that Degusta is an unbiased outsider, something of a modern-day Upton Sinclair, defending the poor, innocent owners of $100,000 sports cars from the uncaring electric car company and its billionaire co-founder.
Yet, a few minutes spent with Google shows that Drucker and Degusta are also business partners, having registered at least four corporations together in California, according to Corporationwiki. It also turns up this article, from the November 15, 2000, issue of Insurance & Technology magazine, a profile of Drucker, in which he is quoted describing Degusta as his “partner in crime.” Indeed, we wonder if the famously litigious Tesla might be considering another libel lawsuit against this muckraking duo.