I drive a Tesla. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sometimes it feels like a third of people around me drive Teslas. I see lots of Teslas in New York City, Austin, and Seattle. I don’t see many of them in Alabama, or the Florida Panhandle or mid-Pennsylvania or Idaho, or anywhere else that’s mostly conservative.
Yet Elon Musk has decided to literally destroy his personal brand—and Tesla’s along with it—in his bizarro turn toward the QAnon dark side. As I’ve been saying for a while (on Twitter), this was never going to end well for Tesla.
A look at Tesla dealerships confirms that, yes, it’s urban liberal elites buying the cars:
- Houston: 4
- Miami: 4
- Los Angeles: 3
- Palo Alto: 3
- Austin: 3
- Bellevue: 3
- Honolulu: 3
- Corte Madera: 2
- Orlando: 2
Looking at where electric vehicles are registered in Texas, just 10.12% are registered outside of the state’s four big liberal centers: Dallas-Fort Worth (35.75%), Houston (23.45%), Austin (21%), and San Antonio (9.68%). The vast Texas conservative hinterlands have little interest in Musk’s product. Woke California buys 42% of all electric vehicles—the vast majority in its urban liberal centers—while making up just 12% of the country’s population.
All that makes sense, as roll-coal-conservatives have a weird hate on for electric vehicles. “Democrats like Pete Buttigieg want to emasculate the way we drive and force all of you to rely on electric vehicles,” said Marjorie Taylor Greene, taking a break from advocating for armed insurrection. The American Conservative, in defense of electric vehicles, wrote: “There are pretty good reasons [conservatives don’t like EVs]. For one, environmentalists love them and usually environmentalists are wrong.”
In an attack ad against Iowa Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne (who went on to narrowly lose her race), the bubba Republican John McCormick, leaning against a gas-guzzling pickup truck, attacked the congresswoman and President Joe Biden as “clueless and out of touch” because “guys like me don’t want an expensive electric vehicle.”
And, of course, there’s Donald Trump. There’s always Donald Trump.
Yet these are Elmo’s new best friends—the crowd he’s decided to embrace while actively attacking the very “woke” liberals who are the bulk of Tesla buyers.
As such, it’s particularly bizarre seeing Musk spiral into la-la land, antagonizing everyone he needs to make his businesses successful—advertisers on Twitter, government agencies for SpaceX, Democratic cities for the Boring Company, and woke liberals for Tesla. We now have the two polls showing Tesla’s growing problem. “YouGov found that self-described liberals now view Tesla more negatively than conservatives, though conservatives also have a negative view of the brand on average, according to the firm’s most recent data,” reported the Wall Street Journal.
That’s a brand favorability drop of net 6.7% positive in May to minus-1.4% in November, according to YouGov.
Morning Consult sees a decline as well, though it does see a more recent uptick among Republicans:
If Musk somehow convinces wealthy conservatives to buy electric cars out of partisan fealty, that could be a silver lining. We need fewer gas guzzlers on the road. But they won’t—not with MAGA politicians continuing to demonize electric car ownership.
Instead, Musk is single-handedly driving away the most avid electric car buyers, a boon to the growing number of alternatives. Buying a brand-new Tesla is now akin to wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat.
Musk responded by calling the crowd “SF’s unhinged leftists.” Yet he should certainly care about the reaction (which clearly shocked him), because the very wealth that is propping up his purchase of Twitter is tied to his plummeting Tesla stock—down more than half its value this year, from a high of $402.67 per share to $166.18 a few days ago.
Frustrated billionaire investor Koguan Leo, Tesla’s third-largest shareholder, has taken aim at the impotent Tesla board and the big guy himself:
As Tesla stock struggles, knocking hundreds of billions of dollars off Musk’s net worth, he must also deal with a dire financial situation at Twitter.
A significant portion of the Twitter deal financing was short-term loans, and Musk will have to put up even more of his Tesla stock up for collateral. “Elon Musk’s bankers are considering replacing some of the high-interest debt he layered on Twitter Inc. with new margin loans backed by Tesla Inc. stock that he’d be personally responsible for re-paying,” reported Bloomberg. “Musk put up billions of his own dollars, selling Tesla shares to make the purchase, and pledging more stock to help prop up Twitter now would be risky. It could give Twitter the breathing room it needs to turn operations around, or it could mean Musk is just throwing good money after bad.”
It’s the latter, lol. The company was only worth around $12 billion before Musk drove away half his advertisers. He needs to get to $31 billion just to break even, plus a new $3 billion in margin loans he must personally guarantee. Yeah, not gonna happen. Oh, and he still owes $1 billion per year in interest on the overall $13 billion loan package. Though, in fairness, the banks already seem to be writing that off as bad debt. No one expects Twitter to afford that.
We’re a long way from the days Musk warred with conservatives like the Koch Brothers. This day, he’s made his bed with the conspiracy theorists. Like Donald Trump (who he sounds like more and more every day), he doesn’t know when to shut up and betrays his ignorance with every word he types. Also like Trump, he so desperately craves attention and adulation that he gravitates to those craven or deluded enough to offer it (the crypto bros, for example, are both). He loved liberals when they lauded his clean-energy vision, but COVID restrictions broke him.
Still, I do look forward to conservatives offering themselves as guinea pigs for Musk’s brain implants, just a few years removed from screaming about being microchipped by Fauci vaccines. They won’t even care that “to date, around 1,500 animals - including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys - have died as a result of Neuralink tests since 2018.” Why would they care, having taken the “red pill.”