Until Elon Musk bought Twitter and started acting like a right-wing maniac, I had a favorable opinion of Musk. Sure, he had some annoying quirks. That comes with being one of the richest people on the planet.
But overall I viewed Musk as an eccentric genius who was doing good things for the world. He made Tesla into a great company, jumpstarting the electric car revolution sorely needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
And his SpaceX company has made great strides in developing innovative advances in rockets, including booster stages that can land themselves and be reused. SpaceX also is responsible for getting my wife and I out of internet hell, a.k.a. dismally slow CenturyLink DSL, when we were able to become beta testers for Starlink satellite internet, which has worked great for us.
Now, though, I'm seeing Musk very differently. What really pushed me over the edge from like to dislike was this recent tweet of his about Dr. Fauci, who I respect greatly.
It's incredibly dumb for Musk to be so blatant about his extreme political views. I follow him on Twitter. These days Musk sounds more like a QAnon crazy person than a CEO.
Look: I realize that corporate CEOs tend to be politically conservative. But usually CEOs don't throw those views in the face of current and prospective customers. I love my Subaru Crosstrek. I have no idea who the CEO of Subaru is, and obviously also am clueless about what this person's political persuasion is.
That's the smart thing for a CEO to do. You don't want to antagonize a big share of your customer base by trashing their politics. Yet this is what Elon Musk is glorying in doing, and it's hurting the image of Tesla among those who buy a big share of Tesla cars: Democrats.
It used to be cool to drive a Tesla. Now I see a Tesla and think, "There goes someone who helped Musk buy Twitter and say that Dr. Fauci should be prosecuted." I may end up owing a Tesla someday. However, there are ever-increasing choices in electric cars. I'd rather that my money not go to benefit Elon Musk, so I'll look more closely now at other brands.
(The situation is different with Starlink, since we have no other choice for high-speed internet out here in the "wilds" of rural south Salem, a mere six miles from the city limits of Oregon's capital.)
I found quite a few stories about how Tesla's image is going downhill now that Musk is preoccupied with kissing up to right-wingers on Twitter. Here's some examples, along with excerpts from the stories.
Tesla's approval rating sinks into negative territory, survey finds
Tesla’s approval rating has fallen fast, according to one survey. Yes, like politicians, automobile makers have approval ratings.
...The electric-car maker started 2022 with a net-positive score of 5.9%, then peaked in May at 6.7%. In early November, it fell to a negative -1.4% reading.
YouGov found a political divide in the numbers. As the Wall Street Journal explains, “self-described liberals now view Tesla more negatively than conservatives, though conservatives also have a negative view of the brand on average.”
What changed to influence opinions so radically? Tesla CEO Elon Musk famously bought the social network Twitter at the end of October and has been a prominent figure in the news for reshaping its operations.
Elon Musk is about to learn that liberals -- not his new deplorable pals -- buy Teslas
I drive a Tesla. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sometimes it feels like a third of people around me drive Teslas. I see lots of Teslas in New York City, Austin, and Seattle. I don’t see many of them in Alabama, or the Florida Panhandle or mid-Pennsylvania or Idaho, or anywhere else that’s mostly conservative.
Yet Elon Musk has decided to literally destroy his personal brand—and Tesla’s along with it—in his bizarro turn toward the QAnon dark side. As I’ve been saying for a while (on Twitter), this was never going to end well for Tesla.
...Looking at where electric vehicles are registered in Texas, just 10.12% are registered outside of the state’s four big liberal centers: Dallas-Fort Worth (35.75%), Houston (23.45%), Austin (21%), and San Antonio (9.68%). The vast Texas conservative hinterlands have little interest in Musk’s product. Woke California buys 42% of all electric vehicles—the vast majority in its urban liberal centers—while making up just 12% of the country’s population.
Tesla is becoming a partisan brand, says survey
Tesla is becoming a partisan brand – losing the support of Democrats and gaining support from Republicans, according to a survey.
Leaders of large companies selling consumer products, like automakers and tech companies, generally refrain from showing direct support to any political party, especially in the US.
Due to the polarizing nature of politics in the US and its two-party system, it’s better to stay away from definitive statements of support one way or the other since you risk alienating large parts of the population.
That’s why it was so surprising to see Elon Musk tell his over 100 million followers on Twitter to vote Republican during the midterm elections last month and going as far as calling the Democratic Party the “party of hate.”
Regardless of your political affiliation, from a business standpoint as the leader of a company selling consumer products, it was a questionable move, and the impact is starting to be felt.
A survey from Morning Consult reported by the Wall Street Journal has been tracking changes in opinion about Tesla from people with different political affiliations. It shows that the number of Democrats with a positive view of Tesla has been tracking significantly down, while it’s up for self-described Republicans:
Tesla’s net favorability among self-described Democrats in the U.S. fell to an average of 10.4% this month through Nov. 27, down from an average of 24.8% in October, according to Morning Consult. It rose to 26.5% from 20% among self-described Republicans during the same period.
Jordan Marlatt, tech analyst at Morning Consult, went as far as saying that Tesla is becoming a partisan brand:
It seems like Tesla is on its way to becoming a partisan brand.