Tesla Owners Stay Loyal Through Elon Musk’s Many Controversies

The electric-vehicle brand retained US customers who returned to market for a new car last year.

| Updated on: Mar 01 2023, 07:58 IST
Elon Musk Twitter Bankruptcy Talk: Timeline
1/13 He’s told employees to brace themselves for long hours, that “the road ahead is arduous and will require intense work to succeed,” and said bankruptcy was possible. Here’s how the saga is unfolding: (Bloomberg)
2/13 Oct. 27: Musk takes control- His first act is to fire the Board along with CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, head of legal Vijaya Gadde and Counsel Sean Edgett. Musk forms advisory team that includes celebrity attorney Alex Spiro, VC David Sacks, Neuralink CEO and head of Musk’s family office Jared Birchall, investor Jason Calacanis, and partner of Andreessen Horowitz Sriram Krishnan. (Reuters)
3/13 Oct. 28: Brands begin to take pause- As Musk plans to unban accounts and says he will charge for user verification, advertisers suspend ads. (AFP)
4/13 Oct. 31: Top tweeters protest- Amid murmurings of plans to charge existing verified accounts, author Steven King tweets, “$20 a month to keep my blue check? F**k that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.” (AFP)
5/13 Nov. 1: Teams working around the clock- The product team works over the weekend on Musk’s idea to charge users for blue check marks. A photo of product director Esther Crawford sleeping on the floor of a conference room, trying to make the deadline, goes viral. Meanwhile, managers are asked to make lists of who can be fired. Employees print out their software code for review by Musk and engineers from Tesla, to determine if their contributions are worthy of keeping a job. (REUTERS)
6/13 Nov. 3: Massive layoffs begin- A memo is sent to all employees telling them of imminent layoffs and to watch for an email with the subject line: “Your Role at Twitter.” Badge access to offices is suspended as 3,700 staffers receive word that they’ve been cut. Realizing employees essential for the continuity of the business have been let go by mistake, some are asked to come back. (AP)
7/13 Co-founder EV Williams tweets, “Heart’s out to the tweeps getting laid off today.” Co-founder Jack Dorsey adds, “I realize many are angry with me. I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologize for that.” (REUTERS)
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8/13 Nov. 5-6: Musk responds to celebrity protests- Unrest grows on the platform over the weekend, particularly over the issue of impersonator accounts. Actress Valerie Bertinelli starts a movement of people changing their Twitter names to “Elon Musk.” Comedian Kathy Griffin joins the protest, finds her account locked. Then Musk announces, “Going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying `parody’ will be permanently suspended.” (AP)
9/13 Nov. 8: Musk sells more Tesla- Despite a previous vow not to sell any more Tesla stock, Musk sells an additional $3.95 billion, bringing the total sold in past year to $36 billion. (REUTERS)
10/13 Nov. 9: Musk Blue tick mark- Blue check mark option becomes available for purchase, and immediately becomes a tool for impersonators. An account masquerading as Nintendo Inc. posts an image of Super Mario holding up a middle finger. (REUTERS)
11/13 Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, and a close cadre of advisers are considering a host of changes to the way Twitter is run and makes money. (REUTERS)
12/13 Nov. 10: More key executives quit as Musk warns of bankruptcy- In his first meeting with employees, Musk tells them to brace for 80-hour weeks and requires everyone back in the office full time. He also says bankruptcy for the company is not out of the question if it doesn’t start generating more cash. Several executives in charge of keeping Twitter safe and accountable to its users quit, including chief information security officer Lea Kissner, chief privacy officer Damien Kieran and chief compliance Marianne Fogarty.. (AFP)
13/13 Nov. 11: Verified accounts get “Official” tags- Twitter adds badges that say “offiical” to verified accounts in some places, though confusion abounds. More brands depart the platform. (REUTERS)
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Tesla has historically enjoyed high loyalty rates with customers, many of whom have become devoted defenders of both Musk and the brand. (AP)

Elon Musk may have turned off some consumers last year, but Tesla Inc. was no worse for wear in an annual analysis of car brands' US customer retention.

S&P Global Mobility recognized the maker of the Model 3 sedan and Model Y sport utility vehicle on Monday both for overall brand loyalty and most improved loyalty in 2022. Tesla also was a repeat winner of awards for the top conquest percentage and highest loyalty among owners of vehicles with hybrid or electric powertrains.

The market researcher doles out the awards based on its analysis of 11.7 million new-vehicle registrations. S&P Global Mobility tracks US household's vehicle ownership and deems customers loyal when they acquire another new vehicle of the same model, make or manufacturer. When a carmaker lures a consumer away from another brand, it's considered a conquest.

General Motors Co. again won the award for overall loyalty among manufacturers, while Mercedes-Benz was the most-improved make in the alternative-powertrain segment.

The results indicate Tesla largely overcame ill effects that its chief executive officer may have had on the brand last year. Many users, which Musk acquired for $44 billion, swore off the EV brand over the billionaire's countless controversies on and off the social media service.

Tesla has historically enjoyed high loyalty rates with customers, many of whom have become devoted defenders of both Musk and the brand. The discounts and perks Tesla offered to boost sales late last year helped the company finish strong, and its home-charging equipment also has been a powerful retention tool, according to Vince Palomarez, product management principal at S&P Global Mobility.

“I'm not equating Tesla with Apple, but you can see similarities,” Palomarez said. “Someone who's going to be a Tesla family, they're going to have the Model 3, they're going to have a charging station, they're going to come back and get a Model Y, similar to how someone who has an iPhone probably also has an iPad or a MacBook. ”

One area where Tesla is slipping, at least to some degree, is in attracting first-time EV buyers. Historically, more than 70% of US consumers acquiring their first electric car bought a Tesla. “In the last year or two, as more EV models are being introduced, we're starting to see some of that share decline,” Palomarez said.

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First Published Date: 01 Mar, 07:56 IST
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