Is Musk’s Twitter Tantrum Ruining Tesla’s Brand?

December 3, 2022

As an early and enthusiastic supporter of Tesla and it’s products, I have to say the last few weeks have severely shaken my confidence in the company. It would appear that the on-the-spectrum behavioral traits which may have served Elon Musk well in the earlier days of brand building across several platforms, have now become toxic following his hostile take-over of Twitter.

Basically, if you set out to genetically engineer a set of actions and memes designed to target and poison the very heart of Tesla’s brand appeal, you could hardly do better than the mind boggling series of mean-spirited actions, outrages, gaffes and self-owns that Musk has rolled up since taking control of the social media platform, topped off with the latest Ye/Nazi connections.
It’s understood that single-minded company builders and innovators can be prickly, difficult, and even awful people.
I could handle Steve Jobs’ occasionally reported dickish behavior, and OK, Henry Ford was a weird Nazi sympathizer, but that was in the past. What we’re seeing now kind of defies logic in..uh..(checks year) – almost freaking 2023.
Having built a globally recognized brand that spoke to aspirations for a positive technological transition in the near term, Musk has somehow managed to link his name and brand with Trumpism, climate denial, and neo-Nazism in breathtakingly short order.


The Twitter chatter of Ford Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley is good vibes only: factory photos, race tracks, corporate boosterism and a lot of retweets of Ford customers gushing about their vehicles. It’s all cars, and it’s all anodyne.

Elon Musk, among Farley’s chief rivals, has taken a decidedly different tack. Since the Tesla CEO also became CEO of Twitter at the end of October, he has dismissed or scared away almost 5,000 Twitter employees (and asked some to return), declared that the social media site may slide into bankruptcyalienated many of its advertisers, botched a product rollout that allowed brand impostors to proliferate on the site, mocked a US senatortold his followers to vote Republican and invited former US President Donald Trump back onto the platform. All the while, he’s tweeted a play-by-play of the saga alongside a steady stream of lewd memes and score-settling burns — many aimed at his new employees.

This belligerent and erratic performance in his new role as “chief Twit” has raised Musk’s already stratospheric public profile to new heights. If Twitter is a global town square, Musk has transitioned overnight from one of its loudest orators to equal parts mayor and sheriff, with the potential to irritate far beyond the echo chamber of his 118 million followers. For owners and potential buyers of Tesla cars, it has become all but impossible to find neutral ground on the controversies that surround Musk.

Tesla’s lead in the EV market is unquestionably strong — particularly in the US, where the carmaker has steadily sold more vehicles over the course of this year. But there are some signs that the lead is starting to slip. Tesla’s share of new US EV sales dipped to 64% in the third quarter from 75% in the year-earlier period, according to estimates from Cox Automotive. 

Part of that can be attributed to more EV options than ever before. US consumers now have about 30 fully electric vehicles to choose from, roughly half of which weren’t on the market 12 months ago. “The competition is getting stiffer,” said Rob Pace, founder and CEO of HundredX, a research shop that uses consumer surveys as a fundraising tool.

But the Tesla brand has also taken a hit from Musk’s antics and his protracted Twitter adventure. HundredX has been tracking Tesla since 2019, and in recent months, its research shows a drop in loyalty among Tesla owners. Until May of this year, the company outperformed other automakers, with around 70% of owners saying they were likely to buy from the brand again. That rate has slid below 60%, while the rest of the industry hovers around 65%. The trend is basically the same, HundredX finds, on the question of whether owners would recommend the brand to a friend. Sentiment about Tesla’s quality, reliability, service and brand values have all turned more negative over the past few months.

“The future loyalty data is really, really worrisome if you’re Tesla because it tends to translate into market share six to nine months out,” Pace said. “This would suggest there are storm clouds.”

Market share is already on the wane as thousands of Tesla owners ditch their cars for EVs from startups with both quiet cars and quiet leaders. In the third quarter, almost one-third of Lucid buyers, for example, had owned a Tesla, according to S&P Global Mobility. The story is the same at Polestar and Rivian, which lured far more former fans from Tesla than any other brand.

Business Insider:

Some Tesla fans are feeling less than enthusiastic about the EV company since Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

Scores of them have been expressing their frustration in tweets accompanied by the #nevertesla hashtag to show they have sworn off Tesla.

Some drivers even say they’ve traded in their Teslas after watching the billionaire’s antics at Twitter. 

One said: “I drive a @Tesla and have @TeslaSolar powering my house. But we’ve bought a @Polestar and have a second on order and every day @elonmusk makes me glad we are moving away from his products. #nevertesla.”

A scroll through the #nevertesla hashtag brings up many similar sentiments.

Other users, who don’t appear to have ever been particular fans of Musk, are also using the hashtag. “Am in the market for an electric car to replace 6y old sedan,” another user said. “More I see @elonmusk whining here and promoting fascists, more aligned I get to avoid buying a Tesla. #NeverTesla #MuskIsATroll.”

Investor sentiment toward Tesla has also recently declined, according to a Morgan Stanley survey.

Around 65% of the survey’s respondents said Musk’s highly publicized dramas at Twitter “will have a negative or slightly negative impact on Tesla’s business going forward.” One potential risk could be a drop in consumer sentiment or demand, Morgan Stanley said in a note on Monday.

Concurrently, Musk has conspicuously reinstated former President Trump’s account, which was banned for continued misinformation and disinformation, particularly about elections and democracy – but in addition has reinstated a number of climate deniers, neo-nazis and other undesirables.

The motivation seems to be a misguided tech-bro libertarianism, which ran off the rails in the last few days as former Rapper/now troll known as Ye appeared on with the odious neo Nazi Nick Fuentes on Alex Jone’s program, declared he loved Nazis, and then posted this.

Washington Post:

Elon Musk said he suspended rapper Ye’s account after he shared an image of a swastika combined with the Star of David, the latest in a series of decisions by Twitter’s new owner that are shifting the way the social media site treats rule-breaking users.

In recent weeks, Musk has conducted informal Twitter polls before saying he would reinstate suspended accounts including former president Donald Trump, as well as saying that the site’s new policy would be “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach” — adding that negative and hate tweets will be made less visible.

“I tried my best. Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended,” Musk wrote overnight to a Twitter user telling him to “fix Kanye.”

Ye’s Twitter account appeared with a message saying “Account suspended” on Friday. It was unclear how long the suspension would last.

Now, Musk is fanning the flame further by jumping into a new shit-show spotlighting yet another right wing hobby-horse – Hunter Biden’s Laptop.
This will not end well, I fear.


22 Responses to “Is Musk’s Twitter Tantrum Ruining Tesla’s Brand?”

  1. John Oneill Says:

    The main issue with Tesla’s cars is that they’re cars. A city with good public transport is much more liveable than one with cars jamming the streets, even if they’re not poisoning you at the same time.
    Likewise, more use of trains would be better than a flood of Tesla Semis onto the highways, and work to protect the beautiful planet we’re on is far more important than sending a few human lab rats to live on a frozen, airless rock one further out from the Sun. Putting Musk’s solar panels and batteries in every house will do less for the climate, and general wellbeing, than replacing every coal and gas plant with a nuke.
    Not being a US citizen, I try to shut up about American politics, so I won’t opine on whether Musk should be boosting Trump, DeSantis, Biden, or whoever. He’s wrong about everything else, though.

    • ecoquant Says:

      I would agree that Mr Musk is too space and Mars focused, but I have never found anything wrong with the instance or design of Tesla’s cars. (Tesla 3.) And please let’s make completely clear Musk is not Tesla just as Musk is not SpaceX. I don’t know why someone would think that unless you are 15 years old or younger or idolize cartoon book heroes.

    • ecoquant Says:

      “A city with good public transport is much more liveable than one with cars jamming the streets, even if they’re not poisoning you at the same time.”

      I would like to see that worked out quantitatively. If you can’t it’s just a random opinion and there’s no reason to believe it or act on it than any other random opinion.

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