“There’s an aura around Elon Musk that he can do no wrong,” said hedge fund manager and YouTube personality Tyler Organ, who owns three Teslas. “That’s finally catching up to him.”
Joya Banerjee, chief gender-based violence advisor at CARE, a Washington-based humanitarian organization, looked at Tesla last year when she was shopping for an electric car. But even before Mr. Musk bought Twitter, she was disgusted by his ego, sexism and excessive power.
“I don’t see my money going to pay his CEO’s salary,” she said. Ms Banerjee bought a Ford Mustang Mach-E instead.
Kenneth Holecko, a retired government human relations manager who lives in Virginia and owns a Tesla, said Mr. Musk’s comments about Dr. Fauci and other topics added to his concerns about the company’s reputation. Concerns about the credibility of self-driving software on issues such as safety. “I’m not going to sell my Tesla because of what happened on Twitter,” Mr. Holecko said, “but I will never buy a Tesla again.”
Survey data show Mr. Musk’s actions have damaged Tesla’s brand image among liberals, the group most likely to buy an electric car. Tesla’s net favorable opinion — the number of people who have a favorable view of the company minus those who view the company negatively — plummeted to 10 points in November from 31 points at the start of the year, according to research firm Morning Consult.
Tesla’s net approval rating among Republicans improved slightly, from 21 points in August to 27 points in November, according to the firm’s research, as Mr. Musk adopted some conservative talking points. But Jordan Malat, an analyst at Morning Consult, said it’s unlikely there will be enough new Republican Tesla fans to make up for disgruntled Democrats.
“Tesla is increasingly becoming a very partisan brand, and that could have quite serious implications for Tesla’s future,” Mr Marat said.