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The Top 10 Reputation Crises of 2013

By Suzanne Woolley and Ben Steverman - 2013-11-15T18:07:38Z

Photograph by Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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No. 10: Tesla Motors 

Tesla Motors Inc., the electric-car maker founded by billionaire Elon Musk, faced public relations trouble in February when an auto reviewer said its Model S sedan had problems with battery life in cold weather. On the Monday after the Feb. 8 review, Tesla shares closed down 2 percent. Musk went on the offensive, hitting Twitter and TV and writing a detailed blog post. Most companies can't act quickly enough to limit the damage, says Diermeier: "Tesla was ready." 

Musk went into damage control again in October, when a video of a Model S catching fire went viral, triggering a 6 percent share drop. He defended the car's safety and included a supportive email from the car owner. By Nov. 7, two more fires had been reported. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into whether to open a formal investigation into the latest fire. The Tesla blog entry about that incident was written by the car's owner, who said he'd "buy another [Tesla car] in a heartbeat." Tesla, the best-performing stock in the Nasdaq 100, is down 29 percent since Sept. 30. Tesla didn't respond to requests for comment.

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