Tesla CEO Says N.Y. Times Article Reduced Market Cap

Tesla Motors Inc.’s chief executive officer said a New York Times story saying the electric-vehicle maker’s Model S sedan fell short of its estimated range trimmed the company’s stock-market value as much as $100 million.

“It probably affected us to the tune of tens of millions, to the order of $100 million,” CEO Elon Musk said today in a Bloomberg Television interview with Betty Liu. “So it’s not trivial.”

The Times this month published a story on its website saying a Model S failed to meet the sedan’s 300-mile (483-kilometer) range “under ideal conditions” during a test-drive in cold weather. Musk on a Twitter post called the story “fake.” The newspaper’s public editor said in a blog on the paper’s website that there were flaws in the story.

Tesla is counting on the Model S to become profitable this quarter, excluding some costs. The Palo Alto, California-based company expects to boost Model S output by at least 25 percent this year and is bringing out the Model X crossover in 2014.

The shares have fallen 12 percent, from $39.24 to $34.38, since Feb. 8, the day the Times article first appeared. That includes today’s 4.8 percent decline at the close in New York.

Tesla’s market capitalization slid about $553 million in that time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 2 percent during the period. The company’s stock-market value is $3.91 billion as of today’s close.

Musk also said in the interview today that Model S demand would be 10 percent to 20 percent less without a $7,500 U.S. tax credit.

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