- Some Tesla owners are done with the electric car brand over Elon Musk’s antics.
- Musk was always outspoken, but lately he has become increasingly political and controversial.
- We spoke to three Tesla owners who say Musk has made them rethink their relationship with the brand.
A self-described former Tesla fanboy, Bob Perkowitz was among the first thousand people to reserve a Model S way back in 2009. He took delivery in 2012 and eventually upgraded to a 2017 edition of the same sedan.
He planned to buy a 2022 model as well. Then things went awry.
Perkowitz is one of many Tesla owners reassessing their allegiance to the brand as Elon Musk becomes an increasingly erratic and polarizing figure Online. Tesla’s CEO has always been outspoken, but in recent months — and especially since he bought Twitter — the persona shown to his 125 million Twitter followers has changed from the sometimes irreverent, visionary entrepreneur to something decided. more warlike and political.
Tesla owners say Musk’s antics are getting too much
Perkowitz says he hasn’t bought a new Tesla because of Musk’s right-wing views, his tumultuous Twitter acquisitions and his radical emphasis on free speech, which Perkowitz believes will allow misinformation to abound on Twitter.
“Elon was a very good reason to buy the car,” Perkowitz told Insider. “He had a great brand. He’s not such a big brand anymore.”
Alan Lasoff, of Calabasas, California, is currently leasing a Model Y SUV but will not be getting a new one when his term expires. For him, the decision boils down to what he sees as the billionaire’s hypocrisy and the amplification of conspiracy theories.
“He told everybody he’s buying Twitter because he wants it to be kind of apolitical, and on the eve of the election he’s saying you should vote Republican,” Lasoff told Insider. “He may have his opinion, but what I really despise in people is hypocrisy.”
John Byrne, a software executive in Maryland, hadn’t been a big fan of his 2020 Model X SUV for a while. He said it creaked, vibrated at times and was of an overall build quality that didn’t justify the $95,000 price tag.
But Musk’s behavior since the Twitter saga — particularly his airing of right-wing views and attack on Anthony Fauci – was the final straw. Byrne traded in his car for an electric Audi at the end of 2022.
“I don’t want to be a brand ambassador for them anymore,” Byrne told Insider.
Tesla did not return a request for comment.
Musk may attract conservatives to the brand
Some recent studies support the anecdotes. Research firm Morning Consult found that Tesla’s net favorability rating among Democrats fell by 20% between October and November. The advantage among Republicans improved slightly.
According to Matthew Quint, a branding expert at Columbia Business School, consumers are more likely to react negatively to a car company being controversial than to another type of business. That’s because a car is a long-term purchase that represents the owner to the outside world wherever they go – unlike, say, a box of Goya beans.
Also, Quint said, the five-figure outlay will make some think harder about who they’re enriching and whether they agree with their views.
The turnaround among some fans comes at a trying time for the company.
After years of Teslas flying off the shelves, the company faces big questions about whether consumer demand is slowing. Amid these concerns, investor fears over Musk’s preoccupation with Twitter, and slowing sales growth, Tesla’s stock fell 65% in 2022.
Additionally, Tesla is dealing with an aging product line while facing unprecedented competition in the EV space, Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions, told Insider.
Nevertheless, it is unclear whether Musk’s outburst will deal a significant blow to Tesla’s sales going forward. Things could balance out if Musk alienates progressives while at the same time selling a lot of conservatives on his cars, Quint said. And if Musk wants to reveal the impact of his words, all he needs to do is tone it down, Quint said.
Perkowitz agrees. He has looked at the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Polestar 2 as electric options, but he is hopeful that he will be able to buy a Model S with a clear conscience.
“I’ve been kind of stuck waiting for Elon to come to his senses and say something that makes sense,” Perkowitz said. “But if he doesn’t do it soon, I’ll drive the Polestar.”
Are you a Tesla owner or employee with a story to share? Do you love or hate your electric car? Contact this reporter at email@example.com