Electrek Loonyland: After the Referrals Scandal Goes International, Fred Lambert Doubles Down

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
electrek loonyland after the referrals scandal goes international fred lambert

What is it about these wacky new-school post-enthusiast autowriters? Prior to last week, I thought that Wayne “50 percent of the time I am an automotive journalist” Gerdes of CleanMPG was probably the loosest screw in the business, what with the drafting at 70 mph and letting a Ranger run wild through a subdivision with the engine off. It didn’t help my estimation of Wayne’s sanity that the payoffs he received for risking life and limb in the service of advertorial content were so Mickey Mouse. Why risk running over an animal or child just to save a few pennies on fuel and/or pick up a couple grand from an automaker?

Electek‘s Fred Lambert is playing for slightly higher stakes, as we revealed in last week’s piece on his double life as “impartial” electric car journalist and compensated Tesla referrer. In fact, since we ran the article Fred managed to get his eighth referral, entitling him to a second $7,200 Tesla Powerwall and bringing the total potential take for his advocacy into the $30,000 range. And while he never found the time to return my e-mails or engage with me regarding his behavior, when Automotive News decided to put him on blast he didn’t hesitate to start getting ugly with young Katie Burke about what he perceived as a “non-story.”

Nor did he think twice about implying that he would kill a Ford employee — a threat he retracted and blamed on his phone.

Burke’s piece draws heavily on the work I did here at TTAC, but I’m not the only person looking into Fred’s behavior. TTAC’s former Editor-in-Chief Edward Niedermeyer pointed out that Electrek isn’t meeting disclosure requirements for stock holding. Ford’s Karl Henkel called Fred out on his allegedly biased reporting regarding non-Tesla EVs, at which point Fred called him “Fucking Deceptive” and threatened to “kill him out.” A quick check for “Electrek” on Twitter or on various search engines shows the publication is being called out around the globe, with journalists summarizing my original TTAC post in several different languages. The electric vehicle reporter for the WSJ has retweeted the Automotive News article. Even the fine folks at ZeroHedge have taken some time to examine the Lambert shenanigans.

You’d think Mr. Lambert might want to keep his head down right now, but he’s doubling down, including publicizing an email he sent Automotive News after finding out they were planning a story on his referrals:

You have to admire the balls on this fellow — his complaint basically amounts to “THIS WOMAN TOOK ME SERIOUSLY WHEN I SAID I DIDN’T WANT TO COMMENT.” Like Wayne Gerdes, he appears to be utterly befuddled as to why anybody would have a problem with him earning five-figure benefits from Tesla even as he purports to report objectively on Tesla and its competitors. A whole army of Twitterati is busying itself pointing out hilarious contradictions between the way Fred covers Tesla and the way he covers everybody else.

What’s next for Fred? Former cross-country speeder and Tesla Autopilot pioneer Alex Roy has announced his intent to take Fred down by nearly any means necessary. Three of the four former TTAC E-I-Cs are publicly lampooning him. In fact, this is the first time I’ve agreed with both Ed and Bertel on something since around the time of Obama’s re-election.

So why does any of this matter? Several of the B&B have delivered supremely world-weary, faux-cynical diatribes about how “everybody is for sale” and “there’s nothing unusual about this.” What I would suggest here is that the average would-be electric vehicle buyer has no idea that Fred is suspiciously close to being an outright Tesla shill who could be holding Tesla stock at the same time that he is writing pro-Tesla “journalism.” They don’t have the luxury of having read a decade’s worth of reporting by TTAC and other outlets on the perils and pitfalls of automotive journalism. In other words, they’re about as well-informed on electric vehicles as most of TTAC’s readers would be regarding sailboats or a particular medical treatment. This is how bad journalism and problematic content drives the good stuff off the market — by being signal-boosted through automotive PR and blogger mutual admiration societies even as the writers receive cash or prizes from the companies on which they are ostensibly reporting.

I can’t do anything to prevent those EV intenders from visiting Fred’s website and using his referral code to further enrich him. It might not even be my job to do so. But what I can do is this: provide some context and some additional information for those buyers who are willing to take a critical or questioning look at the situation. That’s why we are here — to tell the truth. It was the mission when Robert Farago founded this site. It’s still my mission today. Thanks for reading.

[Images via Twitter]

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  • Brett Woods Brett Woods on Oct 06, 2017

    Love the chicken. Something you can sink your teeth into, but gossipy enough to be popular and not esoteric. Another meaty morsel from the writer whose forearm sweeps away the semolina, yogurt, and pabulum we otherwise read every day. Dude should have bought a Model X instead of farm equipment though. My opinion only and…sigh, it has crossed my mind that if a Devil exists, it would trick humans into burning the distilled essence of their ancestors while at the same time, dooming their descendants to misery. When a peer does not return your emails it is insulting and disrespectful, no doubt. It’s like an active hurtful thing. Agreed we all need to read between the lines for the omissions and be aware of “job expected” bias. Nothing wrong with bringing it up and holding people to account for their mush. Most every review reeks of palatable format. I once read about a similar autocorrect mistake though. Two guys are texting and one asks, “How did the date go?” The other replies, “It was great. Went to the pub and after I walked her home and killed her in the woods.” I will go with the dictated-to-Siri-and-not-checked theory. Shameful for a professional. I do regularly view the Electrek website myself and I think it’s one of the good ones for news in that area. Never noticed Lambert before. Q: Is there something really wrong with coasting? I have to come home at 1am several days a week and I’m riding this bike with a ridiculously loud can. I switch it off half way through my subdivision and coast home, that way hopefully; everyone thinks the ass lives further up the hill.

  • Aymamacita Aymamacita on Oct 11, 2017

    And what of Tesla? Any response? Do other manufacturers have a similar program?

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?