Is Elon Musk scaring Tesla customers?


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 attitude.

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

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

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

On Sunday, the kingpin launched a poll asking his base whether he should step down 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 on his timing of departure.

One thing is for sure, investors don’t appreciate this period very much. Tesla shares have fallen more than 33% since the Twitter acquisition was completed on Oct. Elon Musk allegedly assigned engineers at the automaker to take emergency action on 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, withdrew.

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

β€œHis personality is destroying the Tesla brand”

And the man who loves to create memes and hashtags to mock his detractors is now harassed copiously by the Twittersphere. πŸ‡§πŸ‡· Your 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 voicing their disapproval. More than a dozen accounts have tweeted Tesla order cancellations in response to the billionaire’s tweets.

We were able to interview, on condition of anonymity, three customers whose long-term rental contracts were ending or who were about to receive a Tesla. Their names have been replaced by pseudonyms.

Logan, a Tesla Model 3 renter, lives in Southern California. He was attracted 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 he took charge of Twitter, including his defense of rapper Kanye West’s anti-Semitic comments, has been the breaking point. πŸ‡§πŸ‡·
I don’t want to support any company or person that does this
β€œSlice Logan.

Tom, a former Tesla investor who owned one and made a down payment on SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service, decided to cut himself out of Elon Musk’s business altogether. πŸ‡§πŸ‡·
If he wants to be CEO of a social network, he should really focus on it and leave that other company
“, he believes.

These Tesla owners are not alone in reacting negatively. The Wall Street Journal reports a YouGov poll that found that car buyers’ opinions of Tesla have changed dramatically over the past two months. At the beginning of the year, the automaker had a positive net score of 5.9%, with a peak of 6.7% in May. But in November it dropped to 1.4%.

Elon Musk became the richest man in the world mainly thanks to Tesla. Screenshot from CNET.com

In October, Elon Musk told analysts on an earnings call that he expected a ” excellent order ” at the end of the year. He added that he hoped ”
sell every car we make in the future that we can see
“. These comments were made a week before he became CEO of Twitter.

However, Tesla’s sales team seems 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 a Logan-like offer of $3,750 off the sale price and 10,000 free billing miles to anyone willing to take delivery of a Model 3 or Model Y before the end of the year.

Heather says she got 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 responding that the billionaire’s behavior disgusted her, her interlocutor distanced herself from her CEO, explaining that he did not represent the entire company.

Investors are sounding the alarm

Tesla owners aren’t the only ones upset by Elon Musk’s behavior. A group of Wall Street analysts and investors has been sounding 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. πŸ‡§πŸ‡·
Tesla needs and deserves a full-time CEO
“, He wrote.

When Tesla investor and Motley Fool writer Brian Feroldi called Elon Musk to say shareholders were β€œ Worried that Twitter is taking up too much of your time β€œ, the interested
defended saying he was coming literally to finish 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 coming after Elon Musk announced his plan to take over Twitter and later when he became CEO. And although he publicly said in April that he had no plans to sell more Tesla shares, he did so throughout the year, for nearly $40 billion.

For Tom, the break with Elon Musk is consummated. He plans to buy an electric car from another brand when his LDD contract expires next year. πŸ‡§πŸ‡· He was someone to look up to ”, he says about the boss. πŸ‡§πŸ‡· Now I’d rather pay more for another company πŸ‡§πŸ‡·

CNET.com article adapted by CNETFrance

Image: Getty Images

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