|The all-electric Tesla Model S is a large, heavy and luxurious four-door hatchback, as seen in this image from a company gallery in Westfield Garden State Plaza, a shopping center in Paramus.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
When automobile writers get together for lunch once a month in Manhattan, you never know what you might hear.
I arrived on the ninth floor of the 3 West Club just before 12:30 on Tuesday to find the room full of members and guests of the International Motor Press Association.
I saw Norman Mayersohn, deputy Automobiles editor at The New York Times, speaking to an older man I didn't know, and the latter wished Mayersohn all the best.
When I asked what happened, I was told The Times is folding its 20-year-old Automobiles section, ostensibly for economic reasons.
The older man claimed Elon Musk, CEO of California-based Tesla, reacted angrily when the Automobiles section published favorable articles in October about BMW's new iBrand, a plug-in hybrid sports car and an all-electric sedan.
Musk went to the higher ups and had something to do with The Times decision to fold the Sunday section, the man said.
The Times' evaluation of the i8 compared the cramped sports car favorably to the Tesla Model S, a luxurious four-door hatchback, and completely ignored the BMW's shockingly impractical ergonomics.
On Feb. 13, 2013, in a follow-up entry in the Tesla Blog, Musk wrote:
"Yesterday, The New York Times reversed its opinion on the review of our Model S and no longer believes that it was an accurate account of what happened. After investigating the facts surrounding the test drive, the Public Editor agreed that John Broder had 'problems with precision and judgment,' 'took casual and imprecise notes' and made 'few conclusions that are unassailable.'”
Mayersohn, who didn't hear the other man's comments about Musk, said later the section is expected to fold at the end of the year.
During lunch, he noted The Times is the only newspaper that pays for the so-called press cars it evaluates and forbids staffers from going on junkets that are paid for by the manufacturers of cars, tires and other products.