Elon Musk is deterring potential Tesla buyers – report

The actions of Tesla CEO Elon Musk affects potential customer’s buying considerations more than any other car brand, a new US study has reportedly found.

News agency Reuters reports a survey conducted by market intelligence firm Caliber found Tesla’s “consideration score” – which judges how likely a person is to buy that brand’s car when shopping for a new vehicle – has dropped by more than half in the past 15 months.

After reaching a high of 70 per cent in November 2021 – the first month Tesla’s consideration score was tracked – the brand’s figure dropped to 31 per cent in February 2024, despite its sales continuing to grow in the US and overseas.

Across the same period, Tesla’s “trust and like score” has also fallen from more than 80 per cent to less than 60 per cent, while Caliber’s survey showed 83 per cent of US new car buyers connected Mr Musk with the electric vehicle (EV) brand.

“It’s very likely that Musk himself is contributing to the reputational downfall,” Caliber CEO Shahar Silbershatz told the publication.

The drop in the brand’s Caliber consideration score coincided with a number of events affecting the company across the past 15 months, such as multiple delays launching new models – such as the Cybertruck – as well as legal action against its semi-autonomous driving systems, though these have largely been found in favour of the EV maker.

During the same time, Mr Musk purchased social media platform Twitter – now known as X – and came under increasing scrutiny for the website’s increasingly right-wing user base, combined with more instances of misinformation and “fake news”.

Ed Kim, the president of consultancy firm AutoPacific, echoed Mr Silbershatz’s comments, saying more and more buyers looking for an EV are being turned away from Tesla due to its CEO’s outspoken personality.

“A modest but growing number of EV shoppers are increasingly put off by Elon Musk’s behaviour and politics and are now finding viable alternatives to Tesla in the marketplace,” Mr Kim told Reuters.

Despite this, Tesla continues to work its way up global sales charts.

In 2023, the Tesla Model Y was the best-selling vehicle in the world, topping the tables in Europe, sitting just behind the Toyota RAV4 and traditional pickups in the US and being the most popular car among private buyers in Australia. 

Last week, Tesla celebrated the delivery of its 100,000th car in Australia, while the six millionth vehicle built by the EV specialist just rolled off its Fremont production line in California.

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