Elon Musk has to be hoping for a better year in 2023

Tesla CEO Elon Musk looks up as he addresses guests at the Offshore Northern Seas 2022 (ONS) meeting in Stavanger, Norway on August 29, 2022. NTB/AFP via Getty Images

So, Elon Musk, how was your year?

Interesting? Yes, at a minimum, and all of it recorded: Your name has 312,000,000 Google hits. Jesus Christ has 114,000,000.

SpaceX seems to be going well. The Boring Company, who knows. Twitter? Not great. You bought it, then declined to buy it, then bought it again. We aren’t sure what the business plan is, but we’re an automotive site, not a social media expert.

Which brings this automotive site to Tesla, which we can comment on. Tesla stock is, at this moment, $122.21. That’s down $277.79, or 69.46 percent year to date. You told the troops at Tesla to not be “bothered by stock market craziness,” but that’s easier said than done since so many of your employees are stockholders.

Tesla Model Y rear three-quarter dynamic road action year
Cameron Neveu

Then came the discounts, which suggested a slight air of desperation. On December 1, Tesla started offering a $3750 “credit” on Model 3 and Model Y vehicles delivered before the end of the year, said Reuters. Tesla then raised the credit to $7500. It also recently started offering free supercharging, up to 10,000 miles, for vehicles delivered in December. Granted, part of the reason for the spiffs is to keep product moving before 2023, when the federal government kicks in some spiffs of its own that will make electrics more attractive to buyers.

About that time, the problems in China surfaced: Production slowed, even shutting down shifts, and some of the top Chinese executives were transferred to the United States.

Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory
An aerial view of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory on March 29, 2021, in Shanghai, China. Getty Images/Xiaolu Chu/

But one of the biggest problems you have, Elon, is the relentless and arguably unfair scrutiny of every incident that involves a Tesla crashing, or burning, or both. On Automotive News right now: A Reuters story with the headline, “NHTSA probes two more Tesla crashes involving suspected driver assistance,” and runs: “the new crashes under investigation include an eight-vehicle crash in San Francisco in which the driver of a 2021 Tesla Model S reported the Full-Self Driving feature had malfunctioned, according to a police report.”

And this: “Since 2016, NHTSA has opened 41 special crash investigations involving Tesla vehicles and where advanced driver assistance systems such as Autopilot were suspected of being used, including eight investigations in 2022. A total of 19 crash deaths have been reported in those Tesla-related investigations.”

There have been multiple investigations into self-driving features on other cars, but they just don’t seem to get the publicity that the probes into Tesla’s missteps do. It is not a confidence-inspiring presentation. And since you fired all your public relations people, there’s no way for the media to get a positive comment on any of this when we’re looking to hear from both sides. And yes, the media still does that.

2021 Tesla Model 3 Performance side profile driving action
Cameron Neveu

And just a couple of days ago, California passed Senate Bill 1398, which basically prohibits Tesla from advertising its cars as “self-driving.” The language: “A manufacturer or dealer shall not name any partial driving automation feature, or describe any partial driving automation feature in marketing materials, using language that implies or would otherwise lead a reasonable person to believe, that the feature allows the vehicle to function as an autonomous vehicle, as defined in Section 38750, or otherwise has functionality not actually included in the feature.”

Ouch. That’s how 2023 is starting out for you, Elon.

So what to do? How to stem the bad publicity, and the parade of competitors nipping at Tesla’s heels?

One way—and we’re just spit-balling here—might be to name an administrator for Twitter, and walk away from daily involvement. And go back to Tesla and run that company the way you used to, complete with a trusted PR department.

Granted, Tesla has a rabid following, much of it likely undeterred by any of the bad publicity you’ve been getting. But another year like 2022, and your assurance to your employees this past week—“Long-term, I believe very much that Tesla will be the most valuable company on Earth!”—sounds more like you are trying to convince yourself of that than your workers.

Happy New Year, Elon.

Tesla Model Y key card
Cameron Neveu
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    The next few years will be tough for all automakers. Those like Tesla with less scale and higher priced models will struggle more.

    Inflation and high interest will be a factor.

    Companies like GM has a balance a number of models EV and ICE and above all trucks to help keep the cash flow going.

    Teslas weakness has been limited models, long delayed introductions, no real updates on models that made the money like the S.

    Now Musk has exposed the media and far left in their censorship. He was their green darling now they are beating him with a bat showing how they controlled Twitter..

    They will beat him harshly this year over this and any of his other mistakes.

    When he made mistakes at Tesla in the past the media forgave him this year he will not enjoy that advantage unless he caves to them.

    I am not a Musk fan. He is an idea guy with money and things work if he hires the right people. When he fails to do this he gets into trouble.

    I am sure he has a high IQ but I have seen many this way. They could build a nuke plant but they can’t function in daily life with out the basics in common sense at times.

    Your correct except he isn’t smart. One of the inside stories at Tesla revolved around how Musk made his decision to move forward with battery development. His two choices were a) make a larger form factor battery replacing the 18650 configuration, b) abandon his current approach with larger and less costly prismatic for factor batteries which would have put him behind his competition. In the end, he asked his staff what he should do. His staff reminded him that he is the CEO and it was his decision, but since he couldn’t decide, he flipped a coin.

    When your stock is valued far higher than what you actually do… at some point someone is left holding the bill/loss?

    Tesla as a high-dollar exclusive luxury brand at the forefront of a movement is one thing… with all sorts of incentives and cap-trade credits and such fueling profits. Mass market and “this is now a used car” are a different thing.

    Lots of vaporware and hype wrapping up the emperor. Not saying Elon isn’t a business genius. We don’t hold all the business geniuses of the past in high regard now either though…

    Oooops. Looks like Stevie’s liberal bias is showing. Ease up on the hating there. I didn’t think Hagerty allowed this type of “journalizmmmm” here. It’s funny how Elon used to be a Hero with the greenies, but now he’s not. Funny!

    If they go down the corporate left path (or are already), I’ll be shopping for different insurance. Tired of this stuff

    It *is* interesting how Elon Musk has become such a political figure. Once a darling of the left, now one of the right. To where will Elon “trend” next?

    Elon is a smart cookie, no doubt. Tenacious, egotistical and nearly fearless, too. But also easily distractible and needy of attention, which could lead the man anywhere.

    The stock price? Well, that’s just coming back to some semblance of reality.

    Maybe his hard right turn has something to do with it. Alienating your core demographic isn’t a sound business practice.

    Blackrock has unapproved Tesla from ESG investing. ESG is what caused Tesla to be priced at a multiple of its rational value, and now Tesla may be undervalued because authoritarian capital has blacklisted them. The corporate fascist regime is launching investigations into Tesla because they serve the same evil that Larry Fink does. If anyone has a future, it will be because the public acts on the outrages that Musk is exposing with Twitter.

    Tesla’s strength is it’s software and it’s battery/charging tech, not it’s cars. The interiors, panel gaps, etc. do not say luxury to me. Slowly people in my neighborhood are buying Model Y’s so at least with the people from India in my neighborhood he’s winning. I’ve even seen one Rivian pickup. I’m going to go get a Lexus V8 so who cares.

    I’m not a Tesla fan but I do find Musk to be one of the more interesting guys out there in the corporate world. I have reason to get on Twitter or any other social media. It’s just killing brain cells these days.

    Even Tesla tech can she fast in this world of heavy investment.

    Tesla needs to continue improving tech and vehicles as the large automakers will pass Tesla up soon.

    I’m probably in the minority here, but I care just as much about Elon as I do anyone named Kardashian. I have about 5% interest level in SpaceEx, about 2% in Boring, and negative Gazillion % in what happens with Twitter.

    To DUB6:
    I’m with you on all those counts.

    Musk may be hoping for good 2023, but aren’t we all?
    One difference is that we deserve one.
    Musk is an egotistical, unstable scoundrel.
    Remember his accusations of pedophilia on a rescue-team member?
    I’ll never buy his wares.

    Most Tesla owners I have spoken with are quickly disappointed in their purchase. They saw the car as an investment – but the money only goes to Elon’s pockets! Repair appointments are months in the future, parts are on backorder and oh, there’s the catching-on-fire problem!

    Musk got the 2022 he deserved and 2023 will not be any better. He is his own worst enemy. If his 2022 was so “tough” it was because he made it tough, no one told him what to do. Maybe that should read ‘No one can tell him what to do because he will not listen.’

    It is disappointing that I now have to put up with political B.S in the Hagerty articles. Please stick with cars. If I want politics, I will go to the mainstream media.

    Political BS? This is a type of comment that has always left me confused, as there was no political bias nor content present in this article.

    I suspect what irked you, the “political” content, was the critical coverage of Musk and his lackluster EVs. If that’s the case, then just say that, bud. Don’t be a Musk and hide behind half-worded sentences and innuendo.

    Not a fan of EVs, nor the endless hype surrounding them, but the guy is fearless. I’m not surprised he’s egotistical, but he’s a trailblazer. Removing the leftist propaganda that took over Twitter sure has affected the adoration from media, eh ? Which says more than what we should be discussing here, but is fair to mention in context with pretty much any current conversation regarding him. As far as the EV market, others are catching up, and that’s normally a core reason for a stock value adjustment.

    And those that have turned on him are primarily liberal progressives. The rest of us don’t need to support him or turn on him, we knew all along that a Tesla was a status symbol, charging is inconvenient, getting service done is iffy, and the range isn’t what was expected.

    With the previously over valued stock market run and being a media darling musk thought he could do no wrong. Most people like that do eventually fail. Will the tesla continue to succeed, maybe. But there is well funded competition now that gets better with each new model, there are choices for the consumer. Musk can fix this, or he can end up destitute and alone. It would not be the first time. While I am not an automotive historian , there have been other great cars, ie: cord, Tucker, etc….tesla can go that way just as easily. We will see.

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