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Tesla market pressure rises as attitude to Musk sinks

[Update: Tesla just announced Q1 2024 sales, and they are bad, even well below market estimates. More coming on this.] Perhaps as early as today, Tesla will announce how many cars it delivered in the first quarter of 2024. Most analysts expect those numbers to be disappointing. “It’s death by 1,000 cuts,” Karl Brauer, an analyst with, told the Washington Post. Musk “has never had a demand problem, but over the past year-plus, there has been increasing indicators that he’s producing more cars than the market wants.”

Industry analysts estimate that deliveries of new cars by Tesla in the first quarter will be about 425,000 vehicles, down from 484,000 in the fourth quarter of 2023, said Daniel Ives, a tech analyst with Wedbush Securities. He said it has been a “nightmare quarter” for Tesla, as Tesla grappled with a “perfect storm” of increased competition from China, waning demand in the overall EV market, and a fire at its factory in Berlin that added more strains on production and deliveries. “This will be not be a moment of celebration for the bulls and instead be a ‘rip the Band-Aid’ quarter for Tesla investors,” Ives said. “For Musk, this is a fork in the road time to get Tesla through this turbulent period, otherwise darker days could be ahead.”

While Elon Musk has cited high interest rates as a major reason why fewer people are buying Tesla automobiles, the company is dealing with a number of lawsuits that have resulted from serious injuries or death associated with the use of Autopilot and Full Self Driving software that failed to perform as advertised. Recently, under prodding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tesla has added more prominent warnings to those systems to alert drivers that they need to remain focused on the road ahead when those systems are in use.

Recently, the company has rolled out the latest versions of its Full Self Driving software and Musk has directed his delivery personnel to take all new owners on a test drive to familiarize themselves with what it can and cannot do, and to reinforce what their obligations are when the system is active. “Going forward, it is mandatory in North America to install and activate FSD V12.3.1 and take customers on a short test ride before handing over the car,” Musk wrote in an email to his staff recently. “Almost no one actually realizes how well (supervised) FSD actually works. I know this will slow down the delivery process, but it is nonetheless a hard requirement.”

Some consider this latest version of the software the closest the company has come yet to producing cars that can literally drive themselves, while others see the requirement for a test drive an admission that prior instructions about how to use the system were inadequate. Either way, adding the word “supervised” is an alteration in how the company presents its software to new owners.

Until now, the company seemed to imply its cars were more capable of driving themselves than they were in reality. For years the company featured a video on its website it claimed showed a Tesla literally driving itself with the driver merely along for the ride. The contradiction between what the company said in its owners manual and what it suggested on its website led to confusion among some drivers about what their cars actually were capable of. Confusion behind the wheel often has unfortunate consequences.

Tesla “Consideration Score”

Caliber is a market intelligence company that helps companies understand their strengths and weaknesses in the marketplace. One of the metrics it measures is something it calls a “consideration score” — what percentage of potential customers consider a particular brand or model when making a buying decision. “Listen to stakeholders. Build trust. Stop guessing what people think of your business. Get truly actionable intelligence about your brand and reputation with Caliber, the world’s only real-time stakeholder tracker,” the company says on its website.

On April 1, 2024 (no, that is not a joke), Caliber told Reuters that the consideration score for Tesla has dropped from a high of 70 percent when it first started tracking the company in November 2021 to 31 percent in February of this year. Caliber cited strong associations between Tesla’s reputation and that of Musk for the scores. “It’s very likely that Musk himself is contributing to the reputational downfall,” Caliber CEO Shahar Silbershatz told Reuters, adding that his company’s research shows 83 percent  of Americans associate Musk with Tesla.


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