Elon Musk’s Bizarre Political Outbursts Have Turned Off Tesla’s Core Buyers, Data Shows


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Electric car ownership is mostly a left-wing phenomenon. So by making continuous bizarre political statements, Elon Musk has alienated Tesla’s traditionally left-leaning customer base — putting the entire automaker in jeopardy.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, new polling from the Strategic Vision market research firm suggests that the proportion of Democrats buying Teslas fell by more than 60 percent last October and November, when Musk’s anti-Semitic rhetoric lost X-formerly-Twitter a ton of advertisers.

As you likely recall, Musk’s most recent racist shenanigans last August, when he vowed to visit the US-Mexico border to “see what’s going on” for himself. Things somehow got worse in November, when he appeared to co-sign a conspiracy theory about Jewish people’s supposed “hatred of whites,” which landed the social network in deep trouble with its remaining advertisers.

Formerly, as Fortune explains in its reporting on the polling, Democrats had previously made up about 40 percent of Tesla buyers — independents, perhaps unsurprisingly, are disporportionately well-represented among Tesla buyers — but that percentage bottomed out to just 15 percent by the time the company’s 2024 models were released in October and November 2023. In California, as the WSJ notes, registrations of new Teslas fell 15 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023, which compared to the 43 percent uptick in registrations during the same time period in 2022 is a startling reversal of fortune.

Tesla owner left horrified after getting stuck in her car as temperature hits 103 degrees when she tried to update its software in Chick-fil-A parking lot

A Tesla owner was left horrified after she got stuck in her Tesla when she tried to update the car’s system in a Chic-Fil-A parking lot.

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While those who’ve been following Musk’s rhetoric have long witnessed his increasing turn towards right-wing edgelord-ism, the escalation of his commentary and the public blowback from it has demonstrated that he’s an actual liability to the brand — though apparently, that’s only true for a certain bloc of customers.

Indeed, per the company, Tesla did experience an uptick in Republican buyers at the end of 2023, suggesting that the owner’s rightward turn might actually be attracting new buyers. Tesla sales among those who identify as independent also rose even more than GOP voters in October and November, from 28 percent to 44 percent of Strategic’s 250,000-person New Vehicle Experience survey.

In subsequent polls, the firm found that Tesla recouped some of its Democratic buyer base to 35 percent by the end of February. According to Strategic Vision president Alexander Edwards, that uptick may have come from Musk’s relative quiet since in the press since the anti-Semitism debacle.

“This lack of negative press and antics, combined with EV [shoppers] today… shopping various EVs and they find that the Model 3 and Y are still, in their opinion, the best decision based on value,” Edwards said.

While that may be true, Musk’s bad press paired with a crappy sales year and disastrous Cybertruck rollout clearly has Tesla feeling the burn — and it may have permanently mangled the company’s chokehold on the market.

Elon Musk issues brutal email to Tesla staff as he goes ‘absolutely hardcore’ and fires two senior executives, his entire Supercharger team, and moves to lay off hundreds more employees

Elon Musk issues brutal email to Tesla staff as he goes 'absolutely hardcore' and fires

Elon Musk sent an email to staff announcing plans to go ‘absolutely hardcore’ with layoffs and revealed he fired executives Rebecca Tinucci (top right) and Daniel Ho (bottom right). The Tesla boss, who sat down with Chinese premier Li Qiang on Sunday promising an imminent roll-out of driverless cars in the country is said to be frustrated by falling sales and the pace of job cuts so far. ‘Hopefully these actions are making it clear that we need to be absolutely hard core about headcount and cost reduction. While some on exec staff are taking this seriously, most are not yet doing so,’ Musk said.

Fired Tesla Workers Say Elon Musk Is in Big Trouble Without Them

“He’s trashed the Tesla brand.”

Sergei GAPON / AFP
Image by Sergei GAPON / AFP
Thousands of Tesla employees were blindsided by the company’s mass layoffs last week.Workers were left in the dark, only to find out they were fired once their keycards no longer allowed them to get into the company’s buildings.And while Tesla has already garnered a reputation for less-than-stellar customer service, the situation is only bound to get worse, The Independent reports, given the sheer scale of the layoffs, which affected about ten percent of its global workforce.”The quality, at least in customer care, is going to get worse,” one person who was laid off told the newspaper. “It’s already pretty bad, with hour-long hold times and a skeleton crew of overworked agents… we needed more people, not fewer.”Some customers have already seen the effects of this change, with the company’s service centers canceling seasonal tire swap appointments.”They can’t honor them because they laid them off,” one redditor hypothesized.Tesla’s unusual method of producing many cars only after receiving an order for them has resulted in workers simply standing out, The Independent reports, waiting for orders to come in.But new orders are dropping significantly. The electric car manufacturer disappointed with its first-quarter earnings this year, alarming investors with worse-than-expected results headlined by a 20 percent quarter-over-quarter drop in deliveries.The company’s shares are down about 44 percent so far this year — and investors are expecting those losses to grow, given a “nightmare” year ahead.”There would be a lot of days where we would just stand there for three to four hours because we’d met our quota,” Deitrich Dickson, a laid off employee who worked on the Model 3 production line, told The Independent. “I think they over-hired because they were expecting to sell more cars.”Numerous factors are contributing to Tesla’s hellish year, from falling overall demand for electric cars to an influx of cheaper Chinese alternatives. The company also has reportedly shifted its focus from a cheaper Model 2 vehicle to a “robotaxi,” despite plenty of controversy surrounding Tesla’s much-maligned driver assist software.Just last week, the company had to recall every single Cyberrtuck that had been sold in the US over a design flaw that can cause the massive pickup’s accelerator pedal to get stuck down — a massive lapse in safety that could’ve easily led to somebody getting hurt.

Meanwhile, Tesla is in panic mode, slashing prices yet again for both its cars and the company’s Full Self-Driving feature to stave off waning enthusiasm for the brand.

Other experts have pointed the finger squarely at the company’s mercurial CEO Elon Musk, whose abhorrent behavior has alienated a huge swathe of Tesla’s potential customer base.

While stiffing laid-off employees by paying out “incorrectly low” severance packages, Musk has been pushing hard to reinstate a thrown-out $56 billion pay package for himself, going as far as to launch an entire website designed to convince other shareholders of the plan.

And that’s not to mention his incredibly problematic antics that have tarnished the company’s reputation.

“He’s trashed the Tesla brand,” investment management CEO and noted Tesla bull Ross Gerber told The Independent. “Is there any group of people that he hasn’t insulted other than white people…? Only him and Kanye West have reached this level of people’s distaste for him.”

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Elon Musk goes ‘absolutely hard core’ in another round of Tesla layoffs


After laying off 10 percent of its global workforce this month, Tesla is reportedly cutting more executives and its Supercharger team.

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Elon Musk against a purple background of Tesla logos.

Musk said he wants Tesla to be “absolutely hard core” about the headcount reduction.
Illustration by Kristen Radtke / The Verge; Getty Images

Barely two weeks after initiating layoffs for at least 14,000 staffers, Tesla is now reportedly laying off hundreds more — including senior executives and the majority of its Supercharging team.

According to an email first reported by The Information and then Electrek, the automaker’s senior director of EV charging Rebecca Tinucci is leaving the company on Tuesday, alongside most of the 500-person team she oversaw. Tesla’s head of the new vehicles program, Daniel Ho, is also out along with his team. These cuts come in addition to the recent 10 percent workforce reduction — and Musk’s email leaves room for more.

In the email sent to executives last night, Musk said he wants Tesla to be “absolutely hard core” about the cuts, and that staffers working under executives who “don’t obviously pass the excellent, necessary and trustworthy test” would also be out of a job. While the full scale of these new layoffs is unclear, Bloomberg previously reported that Tesla’s total headcount reduction that began earlier this month could end up being as high as 20 percent of its workforce, or well in excess of 20,000 employees.

Tinucci was notably responsible for the rollout of Tesla’s Supercharger network during her six years at the company, including efforts to get other companies to adopt the North American Charging Standard (NACS) developed by Tesla. In his email, Musk says Tesla will still build new Superchargers and complete those already under construction.

Others impacted by the new layoffs include Daniel Ho, a ten-year Tesla veteran who served as director of vehicle programs and new product initiatives, and as program manager for the Model S, 3, and Y vehicles. Most of the public policy team led by former head of policy and business development Rohan Patel (who left the company during the previous wave of layoffs) are also being let go.

These latest job cuts follow what’s already shaping up to be a terrible year for Tesla. The company’s stock price has taken a beating as profit margins sunk to six-year lows amid price reductions that came in response to increased competition and lower demand for EVs. It’s also dealing with a plethora of reputational issues impacting its brand — including never-ending investigations into its Autopilot feature, a recall of its Cybertruck, and Musk’s contentious behavior both online and in the courtroom.

Tesla laid off at least 10 percent of its workforce earlier this month, and in typical Tesla fashion, the Texas-based automaker made sure the layoffs were done in an organized fashion with plenty of communication and a clearly defined strategy. Just kidding. The layoffs were so poorly executed that security was forced to scan employees’ badges at the door to figure out who had been laid off. And, apparently, that included a guy who had taken to sleeping in his car and showering at the factory so he could work longer hours.

Nico Murillo, who until April 15 had been working as a production supervisor at Tesla’s Freemont facility, recently posted his layoff experience on LinkedIn and sharing the timeline of how he discovered he’d lost his job:

4:30am: Opened my laptop, account was de activated. Thought it was just another IT problem, so didn’t think anything of it.

5:00am I usually check my emails while on my autopilot commute to work (1hr 30min drive) Email read: “Unfortunately as a result, your position has been eliminated by this restructuring.”

5:05am Texted my manager, but he said “everyone got it, we’ll get more info later”

5:50am Tried to badge in, and the security guard took my badge and told me I was laid off

6:00am Sat in my car in disbelief.

You would think that someone who works at Tesla would know that even with Tesla’s so-called “Full Self-Driving” software, Autopilot is only a Level 2 system and still requires the driver to monitor the road instead of checking emails. After all, its use has been linked to more than 200 crashes and at least 29 deaths, but for the purposes of this post, we’re just going to move on because his story takes a quick, depressing turn.

According to Murillo, in his five years at Tesla, he moved from an entry-level Production Associate role to Lead Production Associate and eventually Production Supervisor. Also, with a 90-minute commute each way, in 2023, he apparently started sleeping in his car, showering at the factory and microwaving his dinners on days that he was working.

Unfortunately for Murillo, no amount of loyalty to a company is going to be met with any amount of loyalty to you. Even if you post better numbers than your coworkers, you’re ultimately just another meat sack they’re forced to pay until they can figure out how to replace you. Which might explain why the United Auto Workers union is making huge gains in Alabama, of all states, and Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga recently voted to join the UAW even though a similar vote failed back in 2019.

Hopefully, Tesla’s Fremont plant isn’t too far behind Volkswagen’s Chattanooga facility. They deserve better than being forced to line up at the door so they can wait for security to figure out who still has a job.

Elon laying off Rebecca Tinucci, Sr director of EV Charging, and her staff of 500 more as layoffs intensify