Elon Musk’s distraction is just one of Tesla’s problems

“There was this kind of aura about Elon Musk that he couldn’t do anything wrong,” said Taylor Ogan, a hedge fund manager and YouTube presenter who has owned three Teslas. “That finally caught up with him.”

Joya Banerjee, a senior counselor specializing in gender-based violence at the Washington-based humanitarian organization CARE, looked at a Tesla last year when she was shopping for an electric vehicle. But even before Mr. Musk bought Twitter, she was put off by what she perceived as his ego, sexism, and excessive power.

“I couldn’t imagine my money going into his CEO salary,” she said. Woman. Banerjee instead bought a Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Kenneth Holecko, a retired government human resources manager who lives in Virginia and owns a Tesla, said Mr. Musk’s statements about Dr. Fauci and other issues added to his concerns about the company’s credibility on matters like the safety of its autonomous driving software. “I’m not going to go out and sell my Tesla because of what’s going on with Twitter,” Mr. Holecko said, “but I would never buy a Tesla again.”

Poll data shows that Mr. Musk’s behavior has hurt the Tesla brand among Liberals, the group most likely to buy electric cars. According to Morning Consult, a market research firm, Tesla’s Net Favorite Rating — the number of people who view the company positively minus those who have a negative opinion — fell to 10 percentage points in November from 31 percentage points at the start of the year.

Tesla’s net preference rating among Republicans improved slightly from 21 percentage points in August to 27 percentage points in November as Mr. Musk picked up some conservative talking points, according to company research. But there are unlikely to be enough new Republican Tesla fans to offset the disaffected Democrats, said Morning Consult analyst Jordan Marlatt.

“Tesla is increasingly becoming a fairly partisan brand, and that could have some pretty serious implications for Tesla going forward,” Mr. Marlatt said.

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