Tesla Motors' response to this morning's revelation that Tesla Roadsters carry a devastating design problem that could lead to the cars becoming "bricked" — i.e. so drained of battery power they are unusable and require a $40,000 replacement — has been to insinuate that the problem was with the owners and not the car.
Now Tesla Motors, or a pro-Tesla individual close to the company, appears to be trying to smear Max Drucker, the owner who spoke out about the problem, by leaking confidential documents and insinuating that he's doing a "shakedown" despite the fact that Drucker doesn't appear to be asking for any money.
Drucker, as has now been leaked, was a one-time Tesla supporter and one of the owners of a bricked Tesla Roadster mentioned in the original article.
Like many people involved in the tech world in California he was taken by Elon Musk's vision of an attractive and sporty electric car from an American company.
"I'm the guy that had a $50,000 deposit with them for a long period of time during the point at which Elon had to personally verify that he would guarantee the deposits," says Drucker.
Despite being made to wait almost two years while many other owners were taking their deposits back, he was a Tesla supporter who stuck by the company during its hardest times.
For the entire time he'd owned the car and had it serviced, Drucker says he was never once told or even had it insinuated to him that his vehicle would be damaged to the point of complete undrivability if it was unplugged for a long period of time. He also says he was never instructed that doing so would cost him upwards of $40,000 to repair.
Thus, while his house was being renovated, he moved the Tesla Roadster to a garage where he was staying temporarily. It was not possible for him to charge the vehicle there so his plan was to keep it in complete storage and then move it home where it could get the recommended recharge.
Approximately two months later when he tried to move the car its was completely bricked. Immobile. There was no way for him to even get the car rolling so that it could be loaded onto a flatbed. The car was eventually transported to the Tesla service center in Santa Monica for evaluation.
"I'm not stupid, it wasn't a mistake, I didn't think I was putting my car at risk" says Drucker.
Instead of help from the company he'd trusted for so long, he was told that it was his fault and, since he'd been such a loyal supporter — he had deposits down on the Model S and Model X — he'd get the "friends and family" rate of only around $41,000 for the replacement. That was the most they were willing to offer.
Since the story went live someone — possibly Tesla Motors themselves — has been attempting to smear Mr. Drucker by insinuating that he's trying to "shakedown" the company for money. They did so by forwarding a confidential email to the environmental car site GreenCarReports from Drucker to Elon Musk about the issue.
The original version of the GCR article (since changed) asked if this was actually just "an angry owner's shakedown?" Tesla Motors, which has said all along that this is the fault of the owners this happened to and called the reports they themselves confirmed "scaremongering", then retweeted the headline insinuating the man was complicit in a shakedown for money.
Asked pointedly if he was trying to get money out of Tesla, Drucker insists he's not and never has tried to get anything but warranty coverage for the issue, although he's since even given up on that.
"I have no intention of replacing my battery, I expect nothing from them based on the emails I've received, and I feel like it's important for future Tesla owners to understand what they're getting themselves into," says Drucker.
Nowhere in the emails provided to Jalopnik, which you can read in the gallery, does Drucker appear to ask for money or special treatment beyond having the issue addressed. The basic tone appears to be one of concern for other owners, although this is open to interpretation.
As for where GreenCarReports may have gotten a copy of the confidential correspondence between himself and Tesla other than Tesla, Drucker says "Nowhere, absolutely nowhere."
If Tesla did provide the email to GreenCarReports or another Tesla owner who then provided it to GCR it would be a major breach of trust by the company, who would then be sending the message to other owners that their confidentiality only exists if they don't speak up about perceived problems.
Even if the email came from another Tesla owner and not through the company — Mr. Drucker claims to have only sent the emails to Tesla, Jalopnik, and a couple of friends — it would mean somewhere out there in the community is a person attempting to rob anyone who speaks up about the car's problems of their ability to do so confidentially.
We've reached out to Tesla to ask them if they had anything to do with the leaked document but haven't yet received a response.
The warranty card referenced in email from Tesla can be found here.
The charging instructions referenced in the email can be found here.
The response from Tesla is in the gallery above.
The charging reminder from Tesla is also above.