Elon Musk's online persona is making Tesla seem seriously uncool

Love him or hate him, Elon Musk is one of the most 'public' of public figures today. 

His immense wealth and leadership of companies like SpaceX, electric car firm Tesla  (TSLA)  and social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) has given him a sense of respect amongst the public, however, there is also another side of the coin.

The much more publicized front involves controversy — particularly, his public persona that revolves around his interactions on the social media platform he owns. 

Although it seems that these things can remain fairly separated, a market intelligence firm found that Musk's public comments outside of his business could be affecting his golden gooses.

Related: Tesla shares tumble after 'unmitigated disaster' in Q1 deliveries

Tesla CEO Elon Musk leaves the Tesla Gigafactory electric car plant as he holds his son X Æ A-XII during a visit on March 13, 2024 near Gruenheide, Germany.

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As per a report by Reuters, market intelligence firm Caliber attributed a drop of would be Tesla buyers to the extremely polarizing online persona of CEO Elon Musk. 

When Caliber began tracking customer interest in the brand in November 2021, it gave it a consideration score of 70% — which indicates that a large percentage would think about Tesla when considering an electric car. 

In February, Caliber gave Tesla a score of just 31%, while other luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi have reached scores of 44-47%.

According to the market intelligence firm's CEO Shahar Silbershatz, data from its surveys show that as much as 83% of Americans directly associate Musk with Tesla — which can have dire consequences when it comes to actually selling cars.

"It's very likely that Musk himself is contributing to the reputational downfall," Silbershatz said.

A Bad (Personal) Reputation:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk awkwardly dances during the official opening of the new Tesla electric car manufacturing plant on March 22, 2022 near Gruenheide, Germany.

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Musk's eagerness to talk about his projects has benefitted Tesla in the past, however, that is not the case today. 

In recent times, Musk has been the subject of almost endless controversy, as his embrace of offbeat and right-wing political ideals have struck a chord with X users online. Additionally, he has been under fire for endorsing anti-semitic comments on his X account.

Valuation consultancy firm Brand Finance told Reuters that Tesla's reputation fell in 2023 in the US, Netherlands, France, the UK, and Australia. Additionally, a poll conducted by consumer analytics firm Civic Science found that 42% of those polled had an unfavorable view of Musk in February 2024, up from just 34% in April 2022. 

More Business of EVs:

Nonetheless, the real results are much more polarizing, as disappointing delivery and sales results are responsible for a stock slide on April 2.

In a statement released on April 2, Tesla attributed its first quarter 2024 delivery results "partially due to the early phase of the production ramp of the updated Model 3" at its Fremont factory, as well as "factory shutdowns resulting from shipping diversions caused by the Red Sea conflict and an arson attack at Gigafactory Berlin." 

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024


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