Lies by proxy: Record Model S sales utterly bogus, small blog reveals

Musk Picture courtesy theatlantic.com

Remember those record January Tesla Model S “sales” that made headlines a few weeks ago? Turns out, the headlines were written by either math-challenged, truth-challenged, star-challenged, or all-of-the-above-challenged people. Leave it to ev-sales.blogspot.com to state that in January, and according to insideevs.com data, America’s best-selling EV was the world’s best-selling EV, the good old Nissan Leaf. “Wait a minute,” some will say, “didn’t Insideevs claim it was the Tesla Model S?” They did, and they didn’t.

A few weeks ago, Insideevs guessed that the Model S could have sold 1,100 in America and in January. That was 30 more than the official sales data of the Nissan Leaf, and bingo, we had a headline.

ev-sales.blogspot.com is a small blog that collects EV sales around the world. The small blog does it so well that it just received a pat on the shoulder from Fortune for shedding some needed light on “often vague and unreliable’ Chinese numbers. The perfect guys for Tesla numbers.

Initially, ev-sales.blogspot.com reprinted the 1,100 units. A day later, an anonymous commenter said:

“Please fix your Tesla estimate. The 1100 insideevs estimate for Tesla is for US + Canada. If Canada is 100 to 300, per insideevs, US number is 800-1000. So, please put Tesla at #2 if comparing US sales.”

Indeed, if you look very closely at the record number printed by Insideevs, you see a little star. That star usually leads to a sentence that says that these are not real data, but estimates. But then, who’s looking at footnotes. In the case of Insideevs, we definitely should. Here, that star leads to “Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers.” That’s NA as in North America, or possibly as in Not Applicable, you be the judge. In the former case, NA would be Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. The table, however, claims to list “2015 US” sales. If Insideevs takes it upon itself to guess sales, at the very least, it should guess for the proper country.

Be it as it may, ev-sales.blogspot.com estimated that 150 Model S were sold in Canada, and it deducted them from the 1,100 to arrive at something resembling a U.S. number. With guesstimated 950 possibly sold in the U.S., the Model S now is in the #2 position on the list of ev-sales.blogspot.com. On Insideev’s now completely debunked list, the Model S still ranks as number one.

Of course it is not Elon Musk that produces this nonsense. The lies are perpetrated by proxy. However, Elon Musk is known to call out journalists for the slightest infraction. Remember Musk’s unholy war against the New York Times, something that, according to Jalopnik, “vacillates so smoothly between thoughtful and paranoid that it can accurately be described as Nixonesque?” Remember Tesla’s lawsuit against Top Gear? (Tesla lost, twice.) The flipside of so much attention to the truth is that obvious lies cannot be acquiesced. They must be corrected with the same fervor. But they aren’t.

Left standing, fake records like these carry the musky smell of desperation. A true genius doesn’t need that crap. The least we should demand is being lied to with a little more finesse.