Tesla was once beloved by the political left. With electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S and Model 3, Tesla helped spearhead the automotive industry’s push toward EVs, which address traditional progressive causes like climate change and air pollution. However, due to their recent controversial actions, Tesla and Elon Musk are not loved by liberals anymore.
Tesla lost its luster for liberals
Tesla and Elon Musk once had a large contingent of liberal fans that helped them become a financial success. However, in recent months and years, Tesla and Elon Musk have angered these liberal supporters due to such things as right-wing positioning on coronavirus (COVID-19), anti-unionism, feuding with Democrat leaders, and accusations of racism, as reported by Axios.
All of these actions dampened progressive enthusiasm and a loss of love for Tesla and Musk. Considering that many of the buyers of Teslas are liberals, the automaker risks a loss of sales from its previously loyal customer base. As described by Witold Jerzy Henisz, a leader of the Wharton Political Risk Lab and a University of Pennsylvania management professor, “There’s a lot of downside risk. It’s a risk for any company to alienate a substantial portion of its consumer base, potential workforce, and potential investors.”
Actions of Elon Musk and Tesla that upset liberals
Here’s a list of the many actions of Elon Musk and Tesla that contributed to the negative liberal sentiments:
- Coronavirus vaccine mandates: While Musk claims that he received the coronavirus vaccine, he frequently spoke out against vaccine mandates, which most liberals support (as well as most medical professionals and most of the general population). Also, earlier in the pandemic, Musk fought to keep Tesla production facilities fully operating during stay-at-home orders.
- Anti-union stance: Tesla workers are not unionized, and Musk takes an anti-union stance. This includes criticizing the United Auto Workers union. Also, “the National Labor Relations Board accused Tesla of intimidating prospective union organizers.”
- Feuds with Democrats: The notoriously confrontational Musk had multiple feuds with prominent Democrats. This includes saying that President Joe Biden is “unable to say the word ‘Tesla,” and calling the president a “puppet in human form.” Also, Musk had feuds with Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two cherished progressive leaders.
- Tesla relocation to Texas: Last year, Musk announced the move of Tesla’s headquarters from the liberal bastion of California to the more conservative-learning Texas. He cited “California’s business environment, including its pandemic restrictions,” for contributing reasons for the move.
- Accusations of racism: Lask week, California sued Tesla, accusing it of “enabling a racist work culture, slurs, and discrimination.” Also, this week, Musk tweeted, and later deleted, a meme that compared Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler, which drew a strong rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Environmental and human rights concerns about lithium-ion batteries
In addition to the above negative actions, Tesla and Elon Musk might not be as environmentally friendly as previously thought. With their emissions-free electric powertrains, EVs are a more eco-friendly alternative to gas-powered cars. However, the lithium and cobalt mined for EV car batteries destroy the environment and violate human rights.
Much of the mining is in predominantly impoverished countries, such as Bolivia. Musk and Tesla faced accusations that they tried to destabilize the Bolivian government to secure its extensive reserves of lithium when Musk tweeted, “We will coup whoever we want. Deal with it.”
Other EV automakers, such as Rivian, provide an alternative to Tesla for liberals
Another contributing factor for liberals losing their love for Tesla and Elon Musk is that there are other EV car brands that provide an alternative to Tesla. This includes EV startups like Rivian and Lucid. Also, most automakers either offer electric vehicles or will release ones in the near future.
For the liberal customer base, Rivian might pose the biggest threat to Tesla. Rivian offers the award-winning R1T electric truck and the R1S electric SUV. The EV automaker effectively markets its products to outdoor enthusiasts. Also, Rivian makes conversation and protecting the environment a significant part of its mission. This includes the creation of the Rivian Forever Fund, which places 1% of Rivian’s equity into initiatives that address climate change and preserve and restore ecosystems.
Despite all of these developments and the lost love from liberals, Tesla vehicles still sell very well. Compared to the previous year, “vehicle sales rose 71% to 308,600 in the fourth quarter.” The political movement of Tesla and Elon Musk to the right might eventually damage sales. However, for now, Tesla is still the dominant EV automaker.