Image Courtesy of Reuters

By John Maggio

Elon Musk has been moving throughout the top rankings of the wealthiest persons in the world over the past few years thanks to his businesses including Tesla, SpaceX, X (formally known as Twitter), and the Boring Company. While his famous public persona made him seem like a hip, eccentric, future-thinking billionaire, has his image to the public finally faded?

Named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2021, the South African-born billionaire is more than just a typical CEO, founder, or billionaire. Musk, 52, is a cultural icon with millions of devoted followers on and offline. The astronomical growth of Tesla has shifted the conversation in the public around EVs and his SpaceX launches led to a new space race among the 1%.

While Tesla still holds the single largest share of the EV market, the overall slowdown of EV sales over the past few months has hurt Tesla more acutely than other car companies. This is for two main reasons. The first is due to their high cost compared to other companies, the lingering effects of global inflation have made buyers more cautious. The second is that other companies build hybrid models using gas and electricity, unlike Tesla, making it a more practical option for some.

The growth of competitors is also a factor in the recent slump by Tesla. China’s BYD (Build Your Dreams) is a growing competitor in the EV market, mostly in China, but they are a growing global threat to Elon’s company.

Cox Automotive is a technology software company and is the largest automotive and service technology provider. Stephanie Valdez Stearty, an analyst for Cox, recently made some comments about the general EV slowdown.

“The EV slowdown is shaping up to be a Tesla slowdown”, Stearty stated.

The Magnificent Seven is a group of technology companies that keep the US economy growing in 2023. These seven stocks are Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Meta (Facebook’s parent company), Microsoft, Nvidia, and Tesla. Currently, Tesla has been the only one of these stocks taking a nosedive in 2024. 

This slip by Tesla may not just be the fault of the car brand itself or even the global effects on the EV market – some blame could be thrown on its CEO’s polarizing stances and controversial persona. A recent poll showed the link between would-be Tesla owners and negative views towards the company’s CEO.

Elon’s troubles do not just end with Tesla. His acquisition of Twitter, now X, in late 2022 has not led to the success that Musk had envisioned. From hate speech concerns, advertisers pulling out, and rampant misinformation across the platform, his handling of the social media platform has been less than stellar.

The most recent installment of Musk’s management of X is the charges filed against him by the Brazilian Supreme Court over misinformation and obstruction earlier this week.

Musk, who once described himself as “socially liberal and fiscally conservative”, has historically voted from Obama to Biden, but says he plans to vote Republican in the 2024 election.

Having an immense amount of power for being an unelected official, Musk has had a lot of political sway and social influence on and offline. While he is likely to leave the political, social, and business arenas for some time, his image of a successful forward-thinking billionaire may have escaped from the minds of most of the general public.

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