Tesla owner Aaron Levenson told me in an email his main motivation for buying a Tesla Model 3 was because he has two young kids “and would like to leave them with an inhabitable planet when I go”—but that he likely wouldn’t have bought another EV, with or without an incentive. “Tesla is the only true EV company out there,” he wrote.With the cancellation of the credit, Dr. Markus Giesler, a consumer sociologist at York University in Toronto, says wannabe Tesla owners are “existentially disappointed.” He has studied humans’ devotion to certain brands for years, and has noticed something peculiar about Tesla fandom: it’s kind of a cult.
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“We all have this Elon Musk inside of us. We all think we’re maverick risk-takers while at the same time being sensitive towards nature and towards other species, and having this sort of futuristic [outlook],” Giesler continued. “It helps a lot to have that kind of person as the leader of the cult.”It’s easy to understand why Giesler sees it this way. On Musk, Ontario Tesla owner Levenson said: “He has dedicated himself to transitioning the world away from oil-based transportation and is an example of what a leader should be. He is selfless and intends to use all of his fortunes if necessary to facilitate this transition.”Lisa Kramer, an expert in behavioral finance who teaches at the University of Toronto, doesn’t see it quite as dramatically. “He’s not unlike many executives of large companies,” she told me. She did say, however, that Tesla’s sky-high valuation could reflect investors’ hopes and aspirations more than the company’s reality.
“We all have this Elon Musk inside of us”