Tesla seems to be having consistent sales even in spite of the scrutiny surrounding its CEO Elon Musk, which has diminished Americans’ opinion of the manufacturer.
Musk has been in the attention of the media, especially social media, appearing in controversial circumstances. Elon Musk has been under investigation from the Securities and Exchange Commission for one of his tweets that has been suspected as market manipulation. The CEO had to pay a $20 million fine and agree to leave his post. Other incidents include the appearance on the Joe Rogan show and smoking weed.
Still, Tesla has seen sales continue to maintain its level in July through September, according to data from Second Measure, a company that looks at anonymized credit card data and analyzed the frequency of $2,500 fees Tesla buyers pay shortly before receiving their cars.
This year has already been a great year for electric vehicles specifically, with Tesla’s Model 3 being the electric vehicle with the highest sales in the U.S. There has not been any official comment on how recent allegations might have affected Tesla; however it was stated that production and delivery targets are being met and interest for Teslas remains high.
Tesla seems to be having a good impression on the secondary market as well. Teslas hold their value more in resale and demand is not dwindling even for used vehicles. A 2015 Model S is listed for an average of 70% of its original price in comparison to 66% for other cars. Keep in mind that as a new car manufacturer, Tesla vehicles are still relatively rare on the market and this could be a factor for such healthy demand on the used car market.
Tesla’s Public Perception
Even though the interest for Teslas remains stable, the impression of the company is at the lowest point it has ever been. This is according to data from YouGov Brand Index, which monitors consumer sentiment through online surveys. Elon Musk’s controversial actions has negatively compounded on the technical issues that have been previously documented. Consumers’ sentiment of the brand on a scale of 100 for “very positive” to -100 for “very negative” — has declined more than 80% during 2018, even falling lower than the car making industry in general.
This is a case of social media presence that has directly impacted the online reputation of the company. Even though there is no immediate effect on the bottom line of the company, this can very well develop in the medium to long term. Tesla demand could dwindle as it fills its order backlog and its $7,500 federal tax credit soon expires.