- Some Tesla owners are dealing with Elon Musk’s electric car brand over anticity.
- Musk has always been outspoken, but has become increasingly political and controversial lately.
- We spoke to three Tesla owners who say Musk has made them rethink their relationship with the brand.
Bob Perkowitz, a self-described former Tesla fanboy, was among the first few thousand people to reserve a Model S in 2009. It took over in 2012 and was eventually upgraded to the 2017 edition of the same sedan.
He planned to buy the 2022 model as well. Then things went off the rails.
Perkowitz is one of many Tesla owners rethinking their loyalty to the brand as Elon Musk becomes increasingly uncertain. a polarizing figure online. Tesla’s CEO has always been outspoken, but in recent months — especially after buying Twitter — the persona on display to his 125 million Twitter followers has shifted from a sometimes irreverent, visionary entrepreneur to something determined. more combative and political.
Tesla owners say Musk’s antics are overblown
Perkowitz says he didn’t buy a new Tesla because of Musk’s right-wing views, tumultuous take on Twitter and what Perkowitz believes is a radical focus on free speech that would allow misinformation to spread widely on Twitter.
“Elon was a really good reason to buy a car,” Perkowitz told Insider. “It had a great brand. It’s not so great anymore.”
Alan Lasoff of Calabasas, Calif., currently leases a Model Y SUV, but won’t be buying another after the term expires. For him, the decision comes down to what he sees as the billionaire’s hypocrisy and fueling conspiracy theories.
“He told everybody he bought Twitter because he wanted it to be kind of apolitical, and in the run-up to the election he’s saying you should vote Republican,” Lasoff told Insider. “He can speak his mind, but what I really hate about people is hypocrisy.”
John Byrne, chief software executive in Maryland, hasn’t been a big fan of the 2020 Model X SUV for a while. He said it’s creaky, vibrates at times and has an overall build quality that doesn’t justify its $95,000 price tag.
But Musk’s behavior since the Twitter saga — particularly his posting of right-wing views and Attack on Anthony Fauci – it was the last straw. Byrne replaced his car with an electric Audi in late 2022.
“I don’t want to be a brand ambassador for them anymore,” Byrne told Insider.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
Musk could attract conservatives to the brand
Some recent research supports the anecdotes. Research firm Morning Consult found that Tesla’s net favorability rating among Democrats fell 20% between October and November. The lead among Republicans improved slightly.
According to Matthew Kint, a brand expert at Columbia Business School, consumers react more negatively to a car company being controversial than any other type of business. This is because a car is a long-term purchase and exposes its owner to the outside world wherever he goes – unlike, say, a can of Goya beans.
Plus, according to Quint, the five-figure cost involved will make someone think more about who they’re enriching and whether they agree with their views.
Among some fans, the turnaround comes at a difficult time for the company.
After years of Tesla flying off the shelves, the company is facing big questions about whether consumer demand is waning. Amid these concerns, investors’ fears of Musk’s involvement with Twitter and slowing sales growth, Tesla’s stock has fallen 65% in 2022.
Plus, Tesla is dealing with an aging product line as it faces unprecedented competition in the EV space, Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions, told Insider.
It’s still unclear whether Musk’s jitters will seriously hurt Tesla’s future sales. Quint said that if Musk can win over progressives while at the same time selling a lot of conservatives on his cars, things might balance out. If Musk wants to soften the impact of his words, all he has to do is tone things down, Quint said.
Perkowitz agrees. He’s looking at the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Polestar 2 as electric alternatives, but honestly hopes he can buy a Model S.
“I kind of stood there, waiting for Elon to come to his senses and say something sensible,” Perkowitz said. “But if he doesn’t do it soon, I’ll drive Polestar.”
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