Trouble with Elon Musk, Tesla Stock, and Twitter – Vox.com | CarTailz

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and Tesla is in trouble. The share prices of the electric car manufacturer have fallen by more than 50 percent since the beginning of the year. And now the company’s volatile CEO, Elon Musk, is distracted by his shiny new $44 billion toy: Twitter.

Tesla has long enjoyed an excellent reputation, both as a luxury EV manufacturer and as an investment opportunity. But the company’s problems are piling up, and more customers and shareholders seem to be taking notice. Several posts have been criticized in recent weeks Tesla’s build quality have attracted attention on social media, and hundreds of thousands of Tesla cars have been subject to recalls. (Over-the-air updates will address issues with vehicles’ taillights and passenger airbag, two of the company’s most recent calls.) So while Musk is busy putting out fires at Twitter — and running his other companies, SpaceX, The Boring Company and Neuralink – Tesla’s reputation seems to be suffering.

Let’s start with Musk himself. Following his Twitter acquisition, some pundits and analysts worry that Musk’s new job could undermine his responsibilities as Tesla’s CEO and contribute to the crashing stock price. Keep in mind that Musk also funded much of his Twitter acquisition deal by selling his own Tesla stock, and also reportedly authorized more than 50 Tesla engineers to work at Twitter when he took over last month. At the same time, Tesla is currently facing a lawsuit alleging that Musk’s compensation package in 2018 was unduly influenced by the Tesla board of directors’ personal ties to Musk. (The lawsuit also calls Musk a “part-time CEO.”) Over the past year, several lawsuits have been filed against the company related to his workplace, including claims alleging sexual harassment, racism, and a “toxic” work culture.

The cars themselves also have problems. Build quality has been a constant criticism of Tesla, and a reliability study published by Consumer Reports this month found that the company continues to struggle with its body hardware and steering systems, among other things. Repairing Teslas remains a major hurdle, a Recode investigation last summer showed. The challenge is so great that GM claimed in a recent investor presentation that its dealers appear to have repaired more than 11,000 Tesla vehicles since last year. A TikTok video documenting the build quality of a Tesla, including a wobbling front end, was viewed more than 4 million times earlier this month.

Steven Elek, a data analyst for Consumer Reports, said in a statement, “Build quality continues to be an issue for Tesla. In our most recent reliability survey, owners reported issues with the body, paintwork, and trim of Model S, Model 3, and Model Y. Tailgates not closing properly, loose trim and trim, and faded paintwork are some of the specific defects we at Tesla -Owners have heard.”

Then there’s Tesla’s recalls, which total 19 as of the start of this year (GM has issued 25, and Ford has issued 63, for reference, although they’ve also made many more cars). In addition to last week’s recalls, the company also issued recalls to some vehicles for problems with their power steering in November and other cars that could potentially ignore stop signs in February.

Many of these recalls are issued without the cars having widespread safety issues, and they do not require any physical modifications to the cars. Instead, they’ll be handled via over-the-air updates, allowing Tesla to make the necessary repairs essentially through internet downloads. These repairs are obviously easier to perform than taking a vehicle in for repairs or replacing one entirely. However, as Recode has previously explained, because these types of recalls are so easy to address, they could also create a cycle in which regulators constantly scramble to catch up with dangerous software.

Tesla’s plan to become a self-driving car company doesn’t seem to be going too well either. Even as other companies backtrack on their autonomous driving efforts amid an economic downturn, Elon Musk is still touting Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving software — a beta version of the company’s system plans to be available to more Tesla owners by the end this year.

And now Tesla is facing another lawsuit, filed in September by owners who say Musk misled customers about how distant and functional this technology is. The government has also gotten involved: Reuters reported in October that the Justice Department is investigating Tesla’s technology, and the Securities and Exchange Commission has also launched an investigation. At the same time, an initiative called the Dawn Project is calling for a ban on Tesla’s full self-driving software. To support these efforts, the project has released videos and ads designed to highlight the dangers of Tesla technology, including a television campaign showing a Tesla knocking over a child’s doll. The carmaker then recently sent a cease-and-desist letter.

Oh, and Tesla’s competitors are starting to pose a bigger threat. While the company is still the darling of the burgeoning EV industry, companies like Ford and GM are racing to get ahead of Tesla and scale up production. Startups like Lucid and Rivian are also trying to beat Elon Musk’s cars in the luxury market.

Those companies probably don’t mind that Musk is currently spending his time restoring Donald Trump’s Twitter account and posting memes as they could use the time to catch up. As Recode editor Adam Clark Estes wrote when news of Musk’s acquisition was first announced, “But if there was ever a time to get a head start, it’s now. Tesla’s boss is gone. Time to play.”

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