Is Elon Musk Scaring Tesla Customers Away?


Our colleagues at CNET.com interviewed several customers of the Tesla car brand who chose to cancel their order or not renew their long-term lease because of Elon Musk’s stance.

For Heather, the straw that broke the camel’s back was Elon Musk’s virulent attack on Anthony Fauci, one of the world’s most respected immunologists and the outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States. For Logan, it was when the billionaire, just days after taking over Twitter, ordered employees to stop paying supplier bills. For Tom, it is also Elon Musk’s erratic handling of Twitter that is unacceptable.

And when each of them called to cancel their Tesla pre-order or to terminate their lease, explaining that the tycoon’s behavior was behind their decision, the salesperson on the other end of the line told them. answered pretty much the same: We hear that a lot. »

After two months at the helm of Twitter since its $44 billion acquisition, Elon Musk has caused problems with his brutal management methods and his erratic decisions, casting doubt on the future of the social network. It seems that this negative image is starting to rub off on the other companies that he is responsible for, namely Tesla and SpaceX.

On Sunday, the big boss launched a poll asking his base if he should leave his position as CEO of Twitter. 57% of the 17.5 million participants answered in the affirmative. Elon Musk said he would abide by the vote, without giving further details about the timing of his departure.

One thing is for sure, investors do not really appreciate this period. Tesla stock has fallen more than 33% since the Twitter acquisition was completed on October 27. Elon Musk has reportedly appointed engineers from the automaker to take emergency measures at Twitter after he fired half of the social network’s employees without notice a week after taking over. Major advertisers, who account for nearly 90% of Twitter’s revenue, have pulled out.

Earlier this week, CNBC reported that analyst firm Oppenheimer decided to downgrade Tesla’s stock rating from “outperform” to “perform.” Meanwhile, Elon Musk has sold nearly $40 billion of his Tesla stock to help fund Twitter as an estimated $1.2 billion interest payment is due next year.

“His personality is destroying the Tesla brand”

And the man who loves to create memes and hashtags to poke fun at his opponents is now being amply fired up by the Twittersphere. ” His personality is destroying the Tesla brand says Heather, a biotech executive whose Model S lease is coming to an end. More and more Tesla owners are publicly expressing their disapproval. More than a dozen accounts tweeted Tesla order cancellations in response to the billionaire’s tweets.

On condition of anonymity, we were able to interview three customers whose long-term leases were about to expire or who were about to take delivery of a Tesla. Their names have been replaced by pseudonyms.

Logan, a Tesla Model 3 renter, lives in Southern California. He was drawn to the brand because he didn’t want to support the oil industry, but also because he really liked the car. But Elon Musk’s behavior since taking the helm at Twitter, including his defense of rapper Kanye West’s anti-Semitic comments, was the breaking point. ”
I do not want to support any company or person who does this
“Cutting Logan.

Tom, a former Tesla investor who owned one and paid a down payment for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service, has decided to break away from Elon Musk’s businesses altogether. ”
If he wants to be the CEO of a social network, he should really focus on that and ditch the other company
“, he thinks.

These Tesla owners are not alone in reacting negatively. The Wall Street Journal reports on a YouGov poll that found car buyers’ views of Tesla have changed dramatically over the past two months. At the start of the year, the automaker had a positive net score of 5.9%, peaking at 6.7% in May. But in November it fell to 1.4 per cent.

Elon Musk became the richest man in the world, mainly thanks to Tesla. CNET.com screenshot

In October, Elon Musk told analysts on an earnings conference call that he expected a “ excellent request » at the end of the year. He added that he expected ”
sell all the cars we make as far into the future as we can see
“. These comments were made a week before he became CEO of Twitter.

However, Tesla’s salespeople seem to be dealing with a different reality. When Logan called to cancel his order for a new car at the end of his lease early next year, the caller offered him nearly $4,000 to keep his order.

In December, Tesla introduced an offer similar to the one given to the Logan of $3,750 off the retail price and 10,000 miles of free mileage for anyone willing to take delivery of a Model 3 or Model Y before the end of the year.

Heather says she received a call from Tesla around the time Elon Musk took over Twitter asking if she planned to keep her Model S LLD or trade it in. When she replied that the billionaire’s behavior had repulsed her, her interlocutor distanced himself from his CEO, explaining that he did not represent the entire company.

Investors sound the alarm

Tesla owners aren’t the only ones upset by Elon Musk’s behavior. A group of Wall Street analysts and investors have sounded the alarm since the businessman announced his intention to take control of Twitter last April.

Indonesian billionaire KoGuan Leo, Tesla’s third-largest individual shareholder, said last week that Elon Musk is leaving his company. ”
Tesla needs and deserves a full-time CEO
“, he wrote.

When Tesla investor and Motley Fool writer Brian Feroldi called out Elon Musk for saying that shareholders were “ worried that Twitter is taking up too much of your time “, the stakeholder
defended said he came literally to the end a meeting about Tesla’s production progress in Texas.

Many investors were not convinced. Tesla shares have fallen more than 60% since the start of the year, with the biggest drops after Elon Musk announced his plan to take over Twitter and then when he became CEO. And while he publicly said in April that he had no plans to sell more Tesla stock, he did so throughout the year for nearly $40 billion.

For Tom, the break with Elon Musk is complete. He plans to buy an electric car from another brand when his LDD contract expires next year. ” He was someone to look up to “, he says of the big boss. ” Now I would rather pay more for another company “.

CNET.com article adapted by CNETFrance

Image: Getty Images

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