While Elon Musk Tweets Can Be Stupid, We Should Hope Tesla Succeeds

Elon Musk



Guest Contributor: Hamish McKenzie*

When, at the start of 2014, Elon Musk hired me to be a writer on Tesla’s communications team, I already knew he could be a difficult and demanding boss. By that point, the engineer-executive had already been in very public fights with Tesla’s original chief executive officer, his first ex-wife, the TV show Top Gear, and George Clooney, to name a few. But I was still excited. While Musk’s personality could certainly be a distraction, I was more interested in the goal he set out to achieve: ending our collective dependence on fossil fuels.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Hamish McKenzie. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Image: ARK Invest)

I left the electric car company after just 15 months, and my communications with Musk since then haven’t always been amicable. It has sometimes been tempting to join those celebrating his recent public embarrassments – I think we can confidently state that he is the only executive to have achieved the rare trifecta of getting sued over a tweet, calling a British cave-diver a “pedo,” and smoking a joint during an on-camera interview. And now he’s in hot water again with the SEC over another tweet. But my basic position hasn’t changed since 2014. We should hope he succeeds.

It is important to hold Musk to account as an employer and business leader, but it would be a mistake to focus so much on his personal antics that we ignore the more important story of how a system of entrenched corporate interests has fought to preserve the dominance of gasoline-burning motor vehicles. Fossil-fuel companies and lobbyists, taxpayer-supported automakers, automobile dealers that have been propped up by outdated legislation, and short-sighted politicians have for decades hampered the widespread adoption of clean energy in general and electric cars in particular.

In the midterm elections, to take a recent example, fossil fuel-funded groups spent tens of millions of dollars to kill pro-clean energy measures that were on the ballot in Washington (a carbon tax), Arizona (a renewable energy mandate), and Colorado (fracking limits). At the same time, the Trump Administration is attempting to roll back California’s vehicle emissions regulations, which encourage the adoption of electric cars. Such efforts echo the Bush Administration’s support in 2002 for a General Motors and Daimler Chrysler lawsuit that also sought to neuter the state’s vehicle emissions mandate.

Meanwhile, auto dealers associations have attempted to use laws written in the 1920s and 1930s, originally designed to prevent manufacturers from exploiting dealers in a time of oversupply, to block Tesla from selling its cars directly to consumers. The dealers have succeeded in several states, including ConnecticutTexas, and Michigan, where Tesla’s stores can serve only as “education venues”. Surveys in 2014 and 2016 by Consumer Reports and the Sierra Club found that dealers lacked comprehensive knowledge of electric vehicles and in some cases actively discouraged their purchase.

Above: A look inside one of Tesla’s company-owned stores (Image: InsideEVs)

In 2016 and 2017, Big Oil brothers Charles and David Koch, among the richest people to have ever graced Earth, funded a campaign called “Fueling U.S. Forward” that attacked the federal tax credits given to zero-emissions vehicles as a “massive transfer of wealth from poor to rich” and misleadingly claimed that electric cars were secretly bad for the environment because of the materials used to build them. Also in 2016, there appeared two websites that characterized Musk as a billionaire playboy living large on taxpayer money. One, called WhoIsElonMusk.com (no longer active), featured their protagonist in a video titled “American Swindler: The Elon Musk Story”. The other, supported by conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham, was called StopElonFromFailingAgain.com. The sites were created by groups that called themselves the Center for Business and Responsible Government and Citizens for the Republic, neither of which disclosed their funding sources.

It is actions like these, more than Musk’s tweets, that warrant coordinated opposition. If the U.S. is unable to abate the anti-clean energy complex, the country will cede ground to China, which is investing aggressively in clean energy innovation, it will put more lives at risk because of unaddressed climate change, and it will miss out on the biggest economic opportunity since 1859, when industrialists first struck oil in Pennsylvania.

As the only electric car company outside China selling the vehicles in significant volumes, Tesla has a vital role in transforming America’s energy economy, a task that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report emphasized is not optional. But Tesla is still vulnerable, with fragile finances and barriers to clear before it can become an established mass-manufacturer.

Against this backdrop, the opponents of clean energy would love nothing more than for everyone to be lost in an endless debate about Musk’s personal foibles. Let’s not get distracted.


*Hamish is a journalist and the author of Insane Mode: How Elon Musk’s Tesla Sparked an Electric Revolution to End the Age of Oil, a book about the transition to electric cars and a clean energy economy. He was hired by Elon Musk and worked for Tesla in 2014/15 before leaving to write the book, and now he’s one of the founders of Substack, a subscription publishing platform. He’s from New Zealand originally but lives in San Francisco.

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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Ugh another evannex propaganda piece. Got duped into thinking it was a real article.

You can read the word ‘EVANNEX’ right before the content of the article begins. That word appears in the same location before every EVANNEX sponsored article, so you shouldn’t get duped anymore going forward.

The evannex articles usually show “EVANNEX” as the author on the home page. In this case, it was a person’s name, so I assumed it was an IEVs writeup. Wrong! Even giving evannex articles extra clicks is bad enough.

Ah, I see how you were duped. You actuated you index finger.. TWICE. Once to click the article and then once to hit the ‘back’ button after reading the word ‘EVANNEX.’ But not before taking 4 times as long to comment on the article you didn’t want to read.

Hard times in the land of plenty, right?

Thanks, John. The hate is truly absurd. Takes about two articles worth of my time to deal with the nonsense in the comments.

I hear you, Steve. They’re the same folks that would complain about the sound on the roof if it was raining gold.

Would be so great if BEV fans were actually BEV fans! Yes, Musk’s antics are sometimes questionable and we don’t really know for sure his motives. I question him and Tesla on a daily basis. I don’t own a Tesla and I would never consider buying the company’s stock (it’s not even an option at IEV or I’d be given a pink slip). But the hate for a company that is succeeding in the field is bordering on ridiculous. If I didn’t have to deal with this nonsense, I could write more articles about the Bolt and Volt!

Questionable? You mean illegal and in violation of court orders?

It wasn’t, it was not new information. It was all in company’s Q4 report.

You are not paying attention. Musk violated the terms of the settlement by not getting approval prior to tweet.

You sound like you are powerless to deal with trolls. Isn’t there a way to simply ban trolls? It’s sad to see the haters undermine the blog you work so hard for.

Yep, any articles about Tesla or Musk will bring them out like the rats that they are to chew on the edges.

It’s just bizarre that moderators should chose to waste so much time on troll efforts to disrupt the discussion, taint the Tesla discourse with their negativity and undermine the credibility of pro Tesla sources. I would not stand for it.

I’m all for freedom of opinion but when it comes to certain topics the troll factor just becomes too disruptive. I want a comment section where I can find further interesting info and insights not one that is perennially disrupted and undermined by trolls.

I see. Anybody that disagrees with you is a troll.

As you can see just in this comment section, I am not alone in the loathing of evannex “content”. And yes, I have refreshed this page a couple of times to load new comments. Responding to yours is like rubber necking a horrible crash on the other side of the highway. You know it’s a disaster, but you look anyways. I’ll probably look at least a couple more times before the day is over.

More anti-Evannex garbage.

When is enough, enough?
To many of us their articles generally are worth reading. So stifle it already!

Interestingly, your comment and the comment below (with my reply) further substantiates exactly what the article is about. This guy worked for Elon and wrote a book about him. He actually doesn’t appreciate Musk’s tweets and he quit early after Musk hired him. To this day, they have a rocky relationship. Still, he’s pointing out people like you and BEVfan (who supposedly support EV adoption) yet continue to hate on Tesla the company, although it has proven BEVs can and will succeed and pushed most other automakers to start to “slowly” get on board. To hate Tesla is the stupid part, based on the article. To be upset about how Elon handles himself on social media is a whole different story. Again, you don’t have to read it. It’s made very clear right away that EVANNEX first published McKenzie’s article. If that’s grounds for discounting it, that’s fine. But, you’d be very hard-pressed to find another website on the WWW that publishes plenty of content every day from multiple automakers, regardless of the fact that Tesla is really the only one that’s predominantly in the news. We work hard to assure that we cover all the bases, and we even… Read more »

Wow, chill out mate. You don’t know me but tell people that you know how I am. What nonsense was I talking? I only kindly asked that we know from the start if an article is made by Evannex or not.
Who said I hate Tesla? I don’t like the brainwashed fanboys who say that the cars are better than they really are and their god, Musk, who is spreading BS and who I consider a manipulative and sneaky person.
For your information, I do really wish Tesla to succeed and to replace GM or Toyota or Alfa Romeo in sales numbers, if possible. I would never say something wrong about them or any ather EV if I wasn’t 100% convinced that it is true.
Now, I don’t understand why you are so outraged that we don’t praise Tesla if you say you are impartial. Hmmm…

It’s great to have a VPN isn’t it . You can upvote your own comments multiple times to fake popular support and down vote your critics many times over. You need to ask yourself though if it is all worth it.

Sounds like you are an expert at VPNs and up/down vote spoofing. Lol

Don’t kid yourself, the many downvotes you are getting are very real.

The pendulum is starting to swing towards electric let the people take the march.

I never open Evannex “articles”. Without putting them as an author, I consider this clickbait. If you want to praise Tesla, leave the sneaky methods aside, as these are pushing people further away.

It’s a new author that just wrote a book about Elon. He used to work for him but he quit. They no longer have a good relationship. In fact, it seems he dislikes Musk. But, he doesn’t blame Tesla. Being that he’s a new author and not the original EVANNEX staff, and we’ve been in touch with him about getting some content, his name deserved to be shown as the author getting credit for the work. It’s not an EVANNEX article so to speak, it’s a Hamish McKenzie article that EVANNEX published on its site. You don’t have to read it. And no, it is not pushing people away. Articles like this grow our audience and are very popular. Thankfully, we publish about 25 other articles every day to appease all audiences.

I wouldn’t otherwise have read it, so I am glad InsideEVs cherry picks the EVAnnex articles.

Thank you. Honestly, if anyone here thinks that running a successful internet site is free, they’re in the dark. Sadly, we absolutely must pay the bills. Heck, I have to feed my kids. We only hope that the day will come when we can just publish educational EV advocacy and articles about the Nissan LEAF and actually pay the bills. But, but, but …. that day is never going to come.

We must publish at least a reasonable amount of popular (Tesla) content, as well as some articles that are given to us for free, just to barely stay afloat in this biz. It is what it is folks, full transparency here. Publishing an article like this each day, along with much of the Tesla content that’s ravaging the web, makes it so that we can actually publish a wealth of other (non-popular) content. It’s how we have to roll. Thanks for understanding and supporting.

I understand you guys need to pay the bills, and sometimes you have to dance with the devil (or at least clean his pitchfork) to do that.
That being said, in the interest of appeasing a slice of your reader base aside from rabid Tesla fans, I request that anything originally posted on Evannex and cross posted on IEVs be clearly tagged as being associated with Evannex and easily identifiable on the home page, as there is a clear segment of readers that regard Evannex the Fox News of the EV reporting universe.
If this Hamish guy writes such good content as you claim, work something out with him to provide material to IEVs without having to promote the very biased evannex.

For taking a habitual anti-Tesla stance you sure spend a lot of time making negative comments on this site particularly articles on Tesla. All things Tesla. Any article about Elon Musk, the products themselves or even the company.

Makes one wonder what you get out of it or what your motivations is. There are lots of things in this world that I don’t like and that have websites dedicated to them but I certainly don’t spend hours of my day over a period of years making disparaging comments in these websites’ comment section. In fact I tend to stay away from these things I don’t like.

No, it’s clear that there’s more to it than you just not liking Tesla. No normal person would spend
so much time spitting so much vitriol on every single article that has to do with Elon Musk, any Tesla product, Tesla stock or business updates. No one would dedicate so much time and effort to show to complete strangers that one doesn’t like something this much. Your motivation is something different.

I rarely even comment on evannex articles anymore. I usually don’t even click them. I just got duped into clicking on this one, and since it was already open, I threw in my 2 cents.
As I’ve stated many, many times, I don’t really have a beef with Tesla, aside from their CEO. It’s the rabid fanbois like you that I have the problem with that defend Elon like he is Jesus Christ himself.
And hours upon hours a day? Lol, hyperbole much? I take perhaps 15-30 minutes tops a day commenting on forums about EVs in general, let alone Tesla. I’ve actually not been commenting nearly as much on IEVs as I used to. Keep making stuff up in your mind though.

Oh, I didn’t read it. I stopped as soon as I realized it was evannex. Maybe next time something like Hamish/evannex?

You may want to give it a read. It’s rather interesting for sure.

Steven, clickbait sites do have a big audience as well, but that doesn’t give them reputation. As the owner of insideevs you are free to do whatever you like, but as a reader i’d rather like to see serious news and journalism without any brand-preference.

I feel that this particular post is rather compelling and a good read, as is his recent book. There is no brand preference at InsideEVs. No stock interest. No automaker promos, etc. We just publish the news that’s out there … and a ton of it, regardless of automaker or brand.

I agree, and I’m happy to see this article on InsideEVs.

That said, while we’re taking this conversation off-topi, I would like to bring something up: The Evannex articles are sometimes fairly good, and I’m happy to see them here, but I have noticed that Evannex are syndicating their content to other similar sites, and that’s bad because it does mean I start seeing the same headlines over and over again, which I definitely do not like and which definitely does discourage me from visiting.

If you’re paying Evannex for these articles, you might want to consider asking for exclusivity. Heck, ask the question even if you’re not paying for them. I don’t think Evannex realise the danger of dilution that they’re running by publishing the same content across multiple sites.

I believe it’s a quid pro quo relationship. IEVs gets to pluck content from evannex’s website in exchange for promoting evannex and the products they sell in the articles they pluck.

Sure, anything related to Tesla, good or bad, is bringing a higher rating. That said, some of us would like to know from the start if there is an “article” made, edited or sponsored by Evannex.

I never open Evannex “articles”. Without putting them as an author, I consider this clickb@it. If you want to praise Tesla, leave the sneaky methods aside, as these are pushing people further away.

Yeah, we heard you the first time.

Well, that’s a relief. I was starting to think I was repeating myself, in that I was rereading something I already read.

Sounds like possible early dementia. Better get that checked out.

It got posted two times. Not sure if it was an error or someone at InsideEvs likes to post my comments multiple times.
Made your day, right?

IMHO, Elon really does need to learn that ‘Careless Tweets Cost Money’.
It should be obvious now that Tesla has no friends on Wall St or in DC so why does he antagonise them like that?

Mind you, he’s not the only one. The current POTUS needs to learn that lesson just as much as Elon does.

Cue the George Michael “Careless Whisper” song.

It’s difficult to teach old dogs new tricks.
When they’ve learned that by howling and barking they get attention, it’s hard to shut them up.

You’d figure losing his Chairman title and him/his company getting slapped with a $40 million dollar fine would have taught him a little something. But nope. Maybe the SEC forcibly removing the loose canon from Tesla would get something through his thick, egomaniac skull.

It’s actually irrelevant if Tesla succeeds. The important thing is, that EVs get adopted, regardless by which company.

It’s just nicer and quicker with Tesla in the race with 300,000 to 500,000 cars coming, as everyone knows who follows Tesla guidance.

I wonder if a tweet prefix like “aspirational:” or some such can differentiate Musks official tweets from those meant to inspire the troops.

The shorts skipped the “Am Considering” of the last kurfluffle, so, for some no it won’t help.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Elon pulled the plug on Tesla as a company. The rEVolution is started and I don’t think it will turn back even if Tesla dies. Finding new ways of spending his days is what makes that guy tick.

After 500,000 EV’s per year, comes 1,000,000, and then 2, 4, 8, 16…

And, once All vehicles are actually Electric (Not the many coming Hybrids, some with Plugs, and a handful of miles EV Range), Elon Will Rest! On Mars, I suppose!

Great article! thanks

I would argue that Koch brothers and fossil interests haven’t slowed the transition by their tactics, they have actually sped it up.

A lot of people have seen what is going on and they have backed Tesla to the hilt.
The negative publicity on Tesla has been a Tsunami at times but, at the end of the day it is still a tsunami of publicity. People aren’t stupid they can see what is going on and that makes them more inclined to support Tesla. It is the negative tactics towards Tesla that has helped make it into a global phenomenon that is unparalleled in the auto world. We haven’t seen a cult following in a car company on this scale before.

The stalling tactics and the lack of consistent and coherent government policy towards renewable energy has its own problems for fossil fuel interests. Those that supported this behaviour will not be the winners from the energy revolution, they will be the losers. Where they could have got on the ground floor of the revolution they chose the negative strategy.
As Dad always told me, remain positive and you will succeed, negativity never wins!

It’s a shame that that the SEC is on Musk’s case. All I see he did was give a projection that possibly Tesla will sell 25% more cars than was said earlier.
Looking at Bloomberg Tesla TM3 tracker and progress on the China factory it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
I wish the occupant of the WH was held to some degree of truth. He blatantly lies and calls reporters fake news. I certainly don’t think the occupant of the highest office in the land should lie continually to the world.

@Ron M. “… I certainly don’t think the occupant of the highest office in the land should lie continually to the world.”

…and get away with it.😕

It’s part of his Modus Operandi. Include in that paranoia, megalomania, and the continual overvaluing of your own supposed accomplishments, and you have rough sketch of Trump. He’s really rather simple.

Cohen is testifying tomorrow and the GOP is trying to say how can you believe a convicted liar. Yet the GOP has no problem falling all over themselves believing a serial liar. The current occupant of the WH takes Putin’s word over our National Security Advisors.

“It’s a shame that that the SEC is on Musk’s case.”
Elon’s poking the wasp hive with a stick, and then claiming wrongdoing when the wasps sting the hell out of him.
He 100% violated the agreement he made with the SEC. He agreed to have any “market moving tweets” screened by his legal department before tweeting them out. He did not clear the “500k cars in 2019” tweet with Tesla. 100% violation of the agreement with the SEC. It’s black and white. But you are shocked the SEC is calling him out? Lol

@Bro1999; you and the SEC obviously didn’t listen/read the Q4 report that covered the production estimates clearly. Choosing to be obtuse, or paid to ignore the facts? The question is to you AND the SEC.

I want Tesla to succeed, but Musk must be removed as CEO. He is a programmer – not an automotive engineer. He has made stupid decisions, like falcon wing doors for a SUV, that has cost Tesla. He also decided one night to stop production of the Model 3 RWD for no apparent reason.

Maybe that’ll be his “come to jesus” moment that finally makes him realize the damage he unintentionally does to his company and how he needs to change his ways.

Be careful what you hope for.

China’s coal consumption to rise to 3.89 bln tonnes in 2019

/to be clear, .. I do hope Tesla succeeds. But certainly not if it means “riding a wave of carbon taxes” only to crash up on China’s ‘coal beach’.

Bloomberg Tesla Model 3 Tracker right now shows production of the TM3 being between 45,000 – 75,000 to date for the current quarter. Once you add in the X and S. It’s easy to see production of Tesla’s 90,000 – 130,000 this quarter.
With the 15% tariff in China I would expect sales in China will set records. The only think holding it back a little is delivery. So 500,000 Tesla’s in 2019 is not at all unachievable.

Oh Evannex… I always skip reading them and jump to the comment section because I want to see the reaction of readers. XD

You know what, IEVs? I have a suggestion. Post all the (properly labeled) Evannex content you want, but lock the articles to comments. You get the extra clicks from the TSLA diehards, the evannex haters get to avoid the propaganda pieces, and you don’t have to monitor the comments section for fights. Everyone wins! Well, except those wishing Evannex would disappear in the same hole Steve Bannon slithered into, but you can’t win ’em all.

You mean you like to read the carpet-bombing, repetitive double-digit posts by serial anti-
Tesla troll MadBro as he continues his lonely quest to denigrate anything not a positive about his employer GM?

Dude, I don’t work for GM. I don’t even work in the auto industry. But keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better.

Right, keep lying MadBro.

Elon Musk can spend a few months in jail over this nonsense. The man is a genius, but he does some of the dumbest things. 40 million dollars didn’t get his attention but a few months in jail will.

(eye roll)