Reviews | Elon Musk’s antics hurt Tesla’s democratically oriented brand

So yes, there are lots of Teslas in Westchester, almost none in Steuben. To some extent, this may reflect the fact that people in Westchester have more income. But despite what you sometimes hear about parties switching class roles lately, Americans with incomes above $100,000 still vote Republican by a fairly wide margin. What has reversed is the education gap: college graduates have become a Democratic bloc, supporting the idea that what we might call the Tesla Gap is also related to the culture war. And Westchester has a lot more college graduates than Steuben.

Tesla is therefore a brand whose customer base is largely made up of wealthy cultural liberals, who were drawn in part by Elon Musk’s perceived personality. Given all this, Musk’s public endorsement of MAGA conspiracy theories is an almost unbelievably bad marketing move, practically designed to alienate his key buyers. What happens?

To a large extent, Musk may just be revealing who he’s always been — basically, a typical tech oligarch. In general, authoritarian instincts and contempt for little people are much more prevalent among Silicon Valley’s elite than people thought when information technology was still cool.

Even among his class, however, Musk stands out for his lack of impulse control. It was obvious if you were paying attention long before he bought Twitter. More than four years have passed since he treated a caveman who rejected Musk’s offer of a “pedo” mini-sub.

Plus, Musk’s behavior gets even weirder. (One of my favorite lines is that people get worse as they get older because they become more like themselves.) Since when do captains of industry respond to random criticism by poking fun at their imagined tomies?

Now, as I wrote in my last newsletter, Tesla was probably headed for a doom, even if Musk was who his fans imagined him to be; the economics of the EV industry are simply not conducive to long-term market dominance. But Musk might have been able to delay doomsday, at least for a while, if he had managed to hide who he was from his best customers a little longer.

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