Bloomberg’s latest survey of thousands of Model 3 owners presents a conflicted view of Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk, suggesting that while owners are happy with their cars they’re souring on Musk himself. The survey, which asked 5,000 Model 3 owners a series of questions about their vehicles and views on Tesla and Elon Musk more generally, follows a similar project from 2019, making it possible to track how sentiment has shifted over time.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the survey is the divergence in opinion on the Model 3 itself, versus the man whose name is so closely intertwined with the Tesla brand. Overwhelmingly, respondents strongly agreed that the car is enjoyable to drive, and said that it’s been more reliable than previous cars they’ve owned. A majority of owners say they don’t intend to ever buy a gas-powered car again, and almost three quarters of those surveyed say they’re considering a Tesla for their next purchase, with the Cybertruck the most popular answer.
And yet, Bloomberg reports that “the steepest change of opinion was the drop in Musk’s approval.” Respondents said they agreed that he should stop tweeting and stay out of politics. People were particularly wary of his purchase of Twitter (now being rebranded to X), which a majority agreed had been a “distraction” from his work at Tesla. When people had decided to sell their Tesla and switch to another brand, “disapproval of Elon Musk” was cited as the most popular reason. Democrats, unsurprisingly, had the most negative views of Musk, while those who’d voted for Trump in 2020 viewed him more positively. Despite the drop in sentiment, respondents still agreed on average that Musk is the right man to be leading Tesla.
A couple of other answers I found interesting:
- While most respondents said they were considering a Tesla for their next car, other brands mentioned (in declining order of popularity) included Rivian, Ford and Hyundai. The ID Buzz was the only Volkswagen to appear on the list.
- Range was reported to be about 91 percent of the original rated capacity after 100,000 miles, due to battery degradation.
- People’s perception of Tesla’s customer service improved if they accessed it online or via Tesla’s app, but declined via phone. Once Tesla actually worked on their car, a majority of owners were satisfied.
- The Model 3’s brakes and chassis were rated as its most reliable component, followed by battery and drive-system. Exterior reliability was lowest, with paint chips and scratches being the most common complaints.
Finally there’s the section of the survey on Tesla’s driver-assistance system, which Bloomberg calls “the first major driver assessment of Tesla’s autopilot software.” A majority of customers think the “Full Self-Driving” feature was worth the price they paid for it, and think that Tesla is on the right track with its approach. But opinions were more mixed on whether it’s reliable enough for the average driver, with specific issues cited including problems navigating construction zones, and responding to emergency vehicles (a concern that overlaps with a federal investigation).
The survey paints a nuanced view on the attitudes of Tesla owners who are happy with their cars and the company, but frustrated at the behavior of its CEO. Bloomberg’s full writeup is well worth a read.