Tesla news coverage this week has been especially negative, and the timing of it, which comes a week before arguably the most anticipated Earnings Call in recent memory. With Tesla reporting production and deliveries that were well over Wall Street’s consensus, anticipation for the Q1 2021 Earnings Call is slightly higher than usual, and the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) is at an all-time high.
There are always a few negative Tesla stories every week. It might involve a story about some owners who didn’t receive adequate customer service, it might be about a production bottleneck that Tesla is encountering. However, these are relatively micro-scale issues that are resolved within a matter of days in most cases. This week, the news has been geared toward more disruptive, long-term, macro-level issues, like a very public car accident that has both sides of the Tesla circle butting heads, a test from a very well-known product review company that has to do with the aforementioned accident, and other safety issues that have resulted by a rumored irresponsible driving speed by a customer in China. Whether you agree with it or not, there seems to be a more coordinated attack on something that Tesla does well, which is to keep its drivers and owners safe. One of the strongest points of Tesla’s overwhelmingly successful venture into the automotive industry thus far was the company’s ability to keep vehicle occupants safe in the event of a crash, and also roll out software and semi-autonomous driving functionalities that aim to improve consumer safety in revolutionary ways.
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This doesn’t always turn out to be what the media wants to report, however. The week before the Q1 Earnings Call, it was relatively impossible to notice that the tide turned negative on Tesla news coverage. While it is understandable that a violent automobile crash that took the lives of two men should be covered, it captured national headlines and dominated news coverage across the world for several days. Interestingly, I don’t remember such widespread news coverage for the Ford Death Wobble.
Journalists find stories and then build upon them for other sorts of coverage. It’s spin-off coverage where readers get to see how creative the mind of a writer is. There are millions of stories that could be written based on the recent automobile accident. However, a majority of them were negative, and it doesn’t necessarily come down to truth, it comes down to perception. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that many of the journalistic coverages were completely accurate simply because of Autopilot’s misunderstood capabilities in the real world. I still receive questions and comments daily from those who I talk to who believe Teslas are capable of driving themselves. What is even more frustrating is that, at times, owners and drivers, who should have the company’s best interest at heart, spread content, Tik Toks, and other forms of social media portraying that their all-electric car can drive them from Point A to Point B while they sit in the back seat and take a nap. This kind of content is irresponsible, immoral, and wrong. Acting like a Tesla can drive itself completely just for few thousand views is a selfish act that puts the hard work of Tesla engineers at risk for losing all of their work.
That brings me to the unfortunate accident in Texas. We don’t know, yet, what the exact cause of the accident was. We don’t know who was in the driver’s seat, if AP was being tricked, or if it was even on at this point. Most evidence would likely indicate that AP couldn’t have been activated due to the lack of road lines, and the rate of travel isn’t something that AP would let the driver do, to begin with. Eventually, we will have all the facts of this story, and we will be able to accurately say who or what was responsible. But as of right now, those things cannot be speculated against.
Still, news sources are claiming that this car was “driverless,” which is a complete nonsensical narrative considering there are many boundaries that would require a driver to be present during the vehicle’s operation. This didn’t stop Consumer Reports from putting together one of the most ridiculously biased tests I have ever come across. I felt that it simply proved Tesla Autopilot would only be tricked in extreme circumstances, by not following the automaker’s directions and trying to outsmart one of the most capable semi-autonomous driving programs in the world.
The obvious effort to derail Tesla’s momentum is being noted by the fans, followers, and owners of the company. For the life of me, I cannot understand why. In my perspective, for years, MSM has been driving home the point of global climate change, using it as a way to scare people into change. While I believe that fear isn’t always the best way to convince a large group of people to do something, I think climate change is a real issue and it will affect people for generations to come. With cars being such a large contributor to the problem, you’d think the media, the same interests that have been preaching the dangers of carbon emissions for years, would report car companies who are working to transition the automotive industry to electrification, would get a “fair shake.” This just hasn’t been the case.
Trust me, I am a critic of Tesla when it is warranted. I have experienced issues with their customer service department personally, and I have been highly critical of their handling of other issues with its vehicles. I have spoken many times about the LR RWD Model Y and how it was a disgrace for Tesla to keep these pre-orderers in limbo for years. However, there are statistics that prove FSD and AP’s ultimate task: to make driving safer. Most recently, the Q1 2021 Safety Report showed Autopilot was nearly 10 times safer than a human driver. You don’t see mainstream media covering this, but you’ll notice automotive blogs and news outlets taking full advantage of the statistics, which prove Tesla’s mission is becoming more real with every mile driven.
With the momentum Tesla posted with the Production and Deliveries report, I think many people were expecting a big financial quarter. The timing of the negative news is eye-opening, and it seems to be a coordinated effort to perhaps slow down Tesla’s momentum moving forward. Tesla is gunning for yet another consecutive quarter, bringing the total to seven straight if things go well on Monday. Whether Wall Street will recognize the impressive tone of this feat, we’ll see. However, media coverage has done all it can to bring Tesla’s chances of a great quarter down, but with developments, demand, and deliveries all in healthy figures, there doesn’t seem to be much of a chance of that happening.
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