Tesla owners are ditching the brand over Elon Musk’s Twitter antics

  • Some Tesla owners are done with the electric car brand because of Elon Musk’s antics.
  • Musk has always been outspoken, but lately he has become more political and controversial.
  • We spoke to three Tesla owners who say Musk has made them rethink their relationship with the brand.

Bob Perkowitz, a former Tesla fan, was among the first few thousand people to reserve a Model S back in 2009. He took delivery in 2012 and eventually upgraded to a 2017 edition of the same sedan.

He planned to buy the 2022 model as well. Then things went off the rails.

Perkowitz is one of many Tesla owners who are questioning their loyalty to the brand as Elon Musk becomes increasingly volatile and polarization character on the line. Tesla’s CEO has always been outspoken, but in recent months — and especially since he bought Twitter — the persona portrayed by his 125 million Twitter followers has changed from that of an occasionally irreverent, visionary entrepreneur to something more determined more warlike and political.

Tesla owners say Musk’s antics are becoming too much

Perkowitz says he didn’t buy the new Tesla because of Musk’s right-wing views, his tumultuous acquisition of Twitter and his radical emphasis on free speech, which Perkowitz believes will allow misinformation to spread on Twitter.

“Elon was a really good reason to buy the car,” Perkowitz told Insider. “He had a great brand. He’s not such a great brand anymore.”

Tesla Model X with open doors.

John Byrne, CEO of Software, told Insider that he traded in his Model X for an Audi RS E-Tron GT after Musk’s outbursts.

REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File image

Alan Lasoff of Calabasas, California is currently leasing a Model Y SUV, but he won’t be getting another one when his term expires. For him, the decision boils down to what he sees as the billionaire’s hypocrisy and fueling conspiracy theories.

“He told everyone he was buying Twitter because he wanted to be apolitical in a way, and before the election he said he should vote Republican,” Lasoff told Insider. “He can have his opinion, but what I really despise about people is hypocrisy.”

John Byrne, a software executive in Maryland, hasn’t been a big fan of his 2020 Model X SUV for some time. He said it creaked, occasionally vibrated and the overall build quality didn’t justify the $95,000 price tag.

But Musk’s behavior since the Twitter saga — particularly his airing of right-wing views and attack on Anthony Fauci – was the last straw. Byrne swapped his car for an electric Audi at the end of 2022.

“I don’t want to be their brand ambassador anymore,” Byrne told Insider.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

Musk may be attracting conservatives to the brand

Some recent studies confirm the anecdotes. Research firm Morning Consult found that Tesla’s net approval rating among Democrats fell 20% between October and November. Republican favorability improved slightly.

Tesla Model Y crossover

Tesla’s share price fell 65% in 2022.


According to Matthew Quint, a brand expert at Columbia Business School, consumers are more likely to react badly to a controversial car company than to another type of business. That’s because a car is a long-term purchase that represents its owner to the outside world wherever it goes—unlike, say, a can of Goya beans.

What’s more, Quint said, the five-figure expense involved will make someone think twice about who they’re enriching and whether they agree with their views.

The upheaval among some fans comes at a difficult time for the company.

After years of Teslas flying off the shelves, the company is facing the big question of whether consumer demand is waning. Amid those concerns, investor fears over Musk’s preoccupation with Twitter and slowing sales growth, Tesla’s stock has fallen 65% in 2022.

In addition, Tesla is dealing with an aging product line as it faces unprecedented competition in the electric vehicle space, Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions, told Insider.

Still, it’s unclear whether Musk’s outbursts will deal a significant blow to Tesla’s sales going forward. Things could balance out if Musk turns off progressives while simultaneously selling a lot of conservatives on his cars, Quint said. And if Musk wants to soften the impact of his words, all he has to do is tone things down, Quint said.

Perkowitz agrees. He’s been looking at the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Polestar 2 as electric alternatives, but he’s hoping he can buy a Model S with a clear conscience.

“I was stalling a little bit, waiting for Elon to pull himself together and say something that made sense,” Perkowitz said. “But if he doesn’t do it soon, I’ll drive a Polestar.”

Are you a Tesla owner or employee with a story to share? Do you love or hate your EV? Contact this reporter at [email protected]

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