Tesla faces electric vehicle sales slump with drivers put off by Elon Musk's 'reputational downfall'

Tesla faces electric vehicle sales slump with drivers put off by Elon Musk's 'reputational downfall'

WATCH: Elon Musk on the new Tesla Cybertruck

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 02/04/2024

- 14:37

'Whether you hate me, like me or are indifferent, do you want the best car, or do you not want the best car?'

Electric vehicle manufacturing giant Tesla could be in trouble with new data suggesting that sales could fall as drivers admit to being apprahensive because of owner Elon Musk.

Analysts on Wall Street have slashed their estimates for Tesla’s vehicle sales, with some even predicting the brand could see a sales decline for the first time in four years.

According to Bloomberg, experts suggest Tesla will deliver almost 454,000 vehicles in the first quarter of 2024, representing a six per cent drop compared to the fourth quarter last year.

Some analysts have blamed founder and CEO Elon Musk for the sales slump after he introduced a new directive which he said may impact sales.

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Elon Musk and a Tesla Supercharger

Elon Musk is viewed as polarising by many prospective consumers


Customers in North America are now required to be taken on a short journey to test out the Full Self-Driving capabilities in Tesla's electric vehicles.

It comes as the company looks to launch new offers for drivers to incentivise them to buy the vehicles, namely price cuts, free trials to the FSD subscription and free charging.

Elon Musk warned investors that the company was between “two major growth waves”. The first wave was prompted by the popularity of the Model 3 and Model Y, with the second wave expected to come with the release of a more affordable electric vehicle set for production next year.

The brand has dealt with further problems with the stock price of Tesla plummeting 29 per cent this year alone, with Bloomberg highlighting how it represents the worst showing on the S&P 500 Index.

Reuters reported that the number of people who would consider purchasing a Tesla vehicle fell to 31 per cent in February, less than half of its peak of 70 per cent in November 2021.

In comparison, manufacturing rivals like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi all saw their “consideration score” rise to between 44 and 47 per cent in the same period.

The research, from market intelligence firm Caliber, suggested that the popularity of the brand was inherently linked to the reputation of polarising owner Elon Musk.

Shahar Silbershatz, CEO of Caliber, told Reuters: "It's very likely that Musk himself is contributing to the reputational downfall.”

Musk has gained further notoriety over the last year after buying Twitter for $44billion (£35billion), changing its name to X, and emphasising free speech, with the Tesla owner using the platform to speak about his personal politics.

In 2023, Brand Finance found that the reputation of the electric vehicle manufacturer fell in the United States, UK, Australia, France and the Netherlands.

Speaking at an event in November 2023, Elon Musk said: "Whether you hate me, like me or are indifferent, do you want the best car, or do you not want the best car?"

Tesla produced just under 1.85 million vehicles last year and delivered all but 37,000 of them.



Deliveries of the Tesla Cybertruck started at the end of November last year


The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y made up a staggering 1,775,159 vehicles of the total production, showing strong interest in the brand.

The brand also started manufacturing the Tesla Cybertruck in July 2023, with deliveries of the steel-clad pickup truck being sent out in late November.

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