"You’re basically driving around a giant red MAGA hat."

Brand Recognition

Elon Musk is a man with many brands — but for electric vehicle shoppers, his personal brand has become increasingly toxic.

In a survey of more than 7,500 of its readers, The New York Times found that a "vast majority" of respondents were critical of Musk's political views and erratic behavior. And crucially for Musk's bottom line, those sentiments seem to extend to their feelings about Tesla vehicles.

Aaron Shepherd, a Seattle-based product designer for Microsoft, told the newspaper that he's planning to buy Volkswagen's electric ID.4 SUV over a Tesla due to the South African-born billionaire's politics.

"You’re basically driving around a giant red MAGA hat," Shepherd said.

Another reader, IT worker Achidi Ndifang, cited Musk's seeming anti-Black racism as the main reason for his Tesla disdain.

"My mother was seriously debating buying a Tesla," Ndifang, who lives and works in Baltimore, told the newspaper. "As a Black person, I felt like it would be an insult for my mother to drive a Tesla."

Now Trending

While some people argued that they could divorce the man from the machines, an analyst who spoke to the NYT suggested that there's a greater trend at play.

"Musk is a true lightning rod," remarked Ben Rose, the president of the Battle Road Research firm. "There are people who swear by him and people who swear at him. No question, some of his comments are a real turnoff for some people. For a subset, enough to buy another brand."

For at least one NYT reader who once considered himself a fan, however, the serial business owner's rightward shift was enough to discourage him from Tesla completely.

"There’s a time when I’d have given Musk an organ if he needed one," said Tim Yokum, a Chicago software engineer.

Now, Yokum says, the Tesla Model S he currently drives will be the last one he'll ever own.

"Tesla is the only manufacturer in contemporary times that has unapologetically let its CEO take a tiki torch to its good name," he quipped, referencing the tiki torches used by right-wing protesters at 2017's deadly "Unite the Right" protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It's not the first time we've seen Musk's fanboys turn against him — and it certainly won't be the last.

More on Musk: Elon Musk Blasts Boeing CEO as Its Troubled Spacecraft Trapped Astronauts on Space Station

Share This Article