Tesla’s brand is tanking, survey finds


Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images

After plunging nearly 70% last year, Tesla shares are regaining some ground in early 2023. The same can’t be said for the brand image of the world’s top electric vehicle maker, whose favourability is declining in the wake of CEO Elon Musk’s chaotic takeover of Twitter, according to a new survey.

Currently, just 13.4% of US adults have a favourable view of Tesla, compared with 16% last month and 28.4% in January 2022, according to survey data released on Thursday by Morning Consult Brand Intelligence. That’s a 15% drop year over year. Driving the decline is Tesla’s loss of popularity with people who identify as Democrats. Just 3% of those adults view Musk’s EV company favourably, down from 10.3% in December 2022. Which is worth noting, given Musk’s erratic Twitter comments and frustration by some Tesla investors that he’s too focused on the social media platform.


Morning Consult Brand Intelligence

Over the past year, Musk has espoused partisan political views, a practice typically avoided by CEOs of major companies, by explicitly encouraging people to vote for Republicans rather than Democrats during the recent midterm elections and voicing support for Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis as a potential presidential candidate.

During his time at Twitter, in addition to slashing thousands of employees and losing major advertisers, he’s relaxed guidelines aimed at preventing false information about vaccines and Covid-19 and welcomed back controversial public figures, including former President Donald Trump and individuals and accounts, such as Michael Flynn, a former national security advisor, linked to the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol and lies about the 2020 election results.

That prompted some Tesla owners to announce on Twitter that they were getting rid of their vehicles and would-be customers to cancel planned purchases.



“Because of the recent revelation of Elon Musk’s political views—all of which I abhor—I’m starting to worry about what sort of political statement the car is making. Will people see me as a symbol of right-wing environmentalism, a living oxymoron?” Tesla owner John Blumenthal, a former magazine editor, wrote in a recent opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times. “Musk has turned Twitter into an unsupervised playground for neo-Nazis and other random hate mongers and wackadoodle QAnon followers, embraced everything Trumpian and responded tepidly to Kanye West’s outrageous flirtation with Hitler.”

The Morning Consult survey didn’t explicitly identify Musk’s behaviour as the reason for the plunge in Tesla’s overall favourability. However, its recent report gauging views of U.S. adults on CEOs found that net favourability toward billionaire Musk dropped to 9 points in November 2022 from 16 points a year earlier and from 22 points in February 2021.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The EV company’s stock is up more than 14% so far this year. It was little changed in Nasdaq on Thursday, closing up less than 1% at US$123.56.

This article was first published on Forbes.com