Some Tesla customers are using Elon Musk’s Twitter platform to tell him that they find his polarizing tweets hostile and offensive, and it’s hurting his brands rather than helping them.
Investors are voting with their money. Tesla stock was trading at $161.81 as of this writing — a 53 percent discount from its historical average. It’s the “cheapest valuation” since 2018, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said wrote in an email to Yahoo Finance. “On an EV/EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization] basis it’s the cheapest valuation to date.”
“Boycott Tesla” was trending on Twitter on Dec. 12 after Tesla and Twitter CEO Musk tweeted that his pronouns are “Prosecute/Fauci.” Musk’s tweet stoked “anti-Fauci and anti-trans rhetoric in one fell tweet,” wrote MSNBC correspondent Noor Norman.
“I, myself, delayed coming out as trans and publicly changing my pronouns precisely because of the fear produced by this hostile climate in which trans people are both the punchline and the enemy,” Norman wrote.
The tanking of Tesla’s stock price means “that @elonmusk is officially no longer the richest man in the world,” tweeted Brianna Wu. “This has lost more than 1/2 it’s value. I’ve seen compelling analysis than a $50 stock price is generous.”
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Musk’s pronouns tweet was widely seen as a mockery of trans people and an attack on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the immunologist who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Fauci was the chief medical advisor to the president during the covid-19 pandemic.
Fauci was criticized for his handling of the covid-19 pandemic and for dismissing the origins of the virus, popularly thought to have leaked from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“Well, I WAS a Tesla customer. Just cancelling that car I have on order now,” Nick Hanauer tweeted.
“My bro and I were both seriously looking at Teslas last year and were very excited about the company moving to Austin. Elon has lost two customers. I’m perfectly happy not to drive and bro is looking at the 150. Will NEVER buy anything from CreepElon,” Barbara Marshall tweeted.
“I was going to trade in my bimmer for a Tesla. Now I wouldn’t drive one even if they paid me. He’ll learn that the customer base for Tesla is not Maga pickup truck drivers but liberal educated environmentally conscience middle-class people. He repulses me!” tweeted SistahAsali.
It’s not just customers who say Musk’s actions may be negatively impacting his electric car company. New data also seems to back that up, according to Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM, an agency that studies the emotional connection between consumers and companies.
“If you think about the halo of Musk and the halo of Tesla, they definitely intersect,” Natarelli said, according to a CarScoops report. Tesla outscored all other participants in the agency’s 2022 study. The results in 2023 could be different in part because of Tesla’s largely liberal following and Musk’s right-leaning actions.
“If you thought that Tesla was polarizing before, it’s only getting more extreme” Stephen Rivers reported for CarScoops.
Musk’s tweets are “creating real damage for the Tesla brand,” Natarelli told Automotive News. “When I see people commenting that they are no longer considering a Tesla car or are embarrassed to drive it, I think that’s reaching the point of significant equity damage for the brand. When we run our study for 2023, we’re going to see that represented.”
Musk “is the CEO of a publicly traded company. That makes him the brand ambassador of Tesla. Shitposting daily to piss off potential customers is terrible brand stewardship. He is not some random dude with a pov. he has a fiduciary responsibility to Tesla shareholders,” Steven Cohn tweeted.
Musk’s competitors are closing in, Natarelli added. “The last thing you need is [Musk] making it harder.” Even if Tesla had a CEO that perfectly aligns with the vast majority of its target audience, the war over the EV market share is only just beginning, Rivers reported.