Report: Tesla Owners and Buyers Sour on Elon Musk

report tesla owners and buyers sour on elon musk


New reporting from Bloomberg suggests that potential Tesla buyers, as well as current Tesla owners, are souring on the brand because of the antics of Tesla boss Elon Musk.


The reporting cites studies that show owners are generally happy with the vehicles -- reliability problems aside -- but not so much with Musk and his public behavior.


We won't list all of his real and alleged shenanigans -- we don't have all day, and neither do you -- but just recently he's been accused of having an affair with the wife of one of Google's founders, he fathered children with one of his executives and tried to keep it quiet, he's been in engaged in a legal battle over his withdrawal from buying Twitter, and he's just generally been controversial over the years. This very website isn't short on both news articles that paint Musk in an unflattering light and critical op-eds.


“Elon has just soiled that brand for me so much that I don't even think I would take one if I won one,” James Jerry Stone, a Tesla intender, tells Bloomberg. “You have this guy who's the richest dude in the world, who has this huge megaphone, and he uses it to call somebody a pedophile who's not, or to fat-shame people, all these things that are just kind of gross.”


Of course, it's one thing for owners and/or potential buyers to say they'll shy away from the brand due to Musk -- and it's worth noting there are a lot more EV choices being offered from the other OEMs than there were just a few years ago -- and another for them to actually do it. Sales figures show that Tesla is still selling well.


Indeed, Tesla's success can also be attributed, at least in part, to Musk's social-media presence. His actions and tweets draw attention, both positive and negative, to the brand, and he's cultivated a large and loyal following on Twitter -- one that will leap to Tesla and Musk's defense whenever media is critical. This author knows -- Musk tweeted about this piece and TTAC's Twitter account was inundated with angry replies from aggrieved Tesla/Musk stans for days.


It's a unique position for a modern car company to be in. Most of the American public probably couldn't name the head of any other car company save maybe Mary Barra at GM. And no other current automaker boss generates attention or moves markets with their tweets. Nor, as far as I can tell, are car buyers turned off by the politics or personal life of any automotive executive except Musk.


I'd be shocked if anyone left a Chevrolet dealer because of something Barra said to the press or canceled a Ford Mustang Mach-E order because of something Jim Farley tweeted (and Farley once trolled Musk via Twitter). Tesla appears unique in this regard.


How much Musk's tweets and actions will hurt the brand remain to be seen. Even if a few owners don't re-up or a few potential customers stay away, the number might not be enough to put a true dent in Tesla sales.


That said, it seems that, for Tesla, "all attention is good attention" may no longer be the case. For perhaps the first time, less attention on Musk might be better for the Tesla brand.

[Image: Naresh111/Shutterstock.com]

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  • FreedMike FreedMike 5 days ago

    Musk needs to spend his money on fixing Tesla’s quality issues and actually making the product he’s introduced (cough…cough…Cybertruck) versus blowing it on Twitter. Forty-four billion spent on quality control would go a lot further towards cementing Tesla’s long term fortunes than silly yoke steering wheels would.


    Musk gets away with his behavior, and Tesla gets away with building semi-shoddy cars, for a simple reason: there isn’t much competition. Well, that’s changing very quickly, and all those competitors are far better at Car Manufacturing 101 than Tesla is.




    But Tesla makes cool stuff, says the Tesla faithful. And they’re right. So did Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and a bunch of other companies that all ended up decimated by manufacturers that actually knew how to build cars.


    And someone should remind him that his spirit animal, Tony Stark, is a fictional character.


  • Rick T. Rick T. 5 days ago

    I wonder what all those offended by Musk do for sports, music, and movie entertainment. Because if those same standards applied....

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  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
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