News and Commentary

Tesla Owners Freak Out At Elon Musk’s Transformation
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

As Tesla CEO Elon Musk sounded off repeatedly on California’s restrictions due to the coronavirus with a series of tweets that culminated in triggering an uproar on Sunday when he tweeted, “Take the red pill,” leading many people to believe he was embracing conservative philosophy, some owners of Tesla cars have freaked out at the prospect of Musk metamorphosing into a conservative.

Writing in The New York Times on Tuesday, Nellie Bowles began her article about the disgruntled Tesla owners by opining, “Owning a Tesla, the luxurious electric car, is a major liberal status symbol. It signals nothing more than good taste — the perfect balance of wealth with care for fossil fuels. But the man behind the brand is crafting a very different persona online that may now prove to be a challenge for his fans.”

Bowles continued, “Tesla owners are having to grapple with a car that carries a few new connotations,” before quoting various Tesla owners who expressed dismay over Musk’s apparent conversion to a perspective of conservative bent.

In late April, Musk urged governors across the nation to start opening their states for business, tweeting, “FREE AMERICA NOW,” “Give people their freedom back,” and responded to an article in the Texas Tribune titled, “Texas restaurants, retailers and other businesses can reopen Friday. Here’s the rules they have to follow,” by tweeting “Bravo Texas!”

Days later, speaking on a Tesla earnings call on Wednesday, Musk ramped up his rhetoric about shelter-in-place orders around the nation, calling them “fascist.”

Musk directly challenged California Interim Public Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan, who had barred Musk’s  company from resuming business via a county-wide order. Musk responded by tweeting, “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Markos Moulitsas, author of “The Resistance Handbook: 45 Ways to Fight Trump” and the founder of the leftist blog Daily Kos, stated, “Honestly, Musk is becoming a liability and the Tesla board needs to seriously consider ousting him. And I say that as a proud owner of a Tesla and a SpaceX fanatic who truly appreciates what he’s built.”

Alex Goodchild, a D.J. from New York, responding to Musk tweeting on April 28, “FREE AMERICA NOW,” tweeted, “Tesla owner and Fan here, but this was a disappointing tweet despite the frustrations of and holdups. Words are weapons especially when used during situations like the one we’re currently experiencing. You sound just like Trump in this tweet.”

Jeff Guilfoyle, a product manager at FireEye in San Diego: “As a Tesla owner, a 47-year-old male recovering from Covid-19, and someone very concerned simultaneously about the environment, the economy, my kids’ and my parents’ future, this ain’t great. This disease is no joke, and the long-term health impacts are unknown for survivors.”

Raja Sohail Abbas, chief executive of an outpatient psychiatric clinic in Allentown, Pa., wrote: “I am a Tesla owner and love the company. You have to stop being an idiot about this.”

Sam Kelly, a Tesla owner and investor based in Spain: “If you own a Tesla, you feel you are directly connected to Elon Musk and people think that Tesla owners are directly connected to the politics of the C.E.O.”

The Times reported that Musk pasted an image of the Urban Dictionary definition of red pill in an email: “’Red pill’ has become a popular phrase among cyberculture and signifies a free-thinking attitude, and a waking up from a ‘normal’ life of sloth and ignorance. Red pills prefer the truth, no matter how gritty and painful it may be.”

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