Sunday, 29 Jan 2023

Rude drivers will swerve in my lane: are Tesla owners paying the price for Musk hate?

Rude drivers will swerve in my lane: are Tesla owners paying the price for Musk hate?

Rude drivers will swerve in my lane: are Tesla owners paying the price for Musk hate?

Tesla lost at least one customer this weekend, after Alyssa Milano tweeted that she had returned her model for a Volkswagen electric vehicle, prompting jokes from Elon Musk and conservative commentators about the German manufacturer's Nazi origin story. Milano said she had ditched Tesla due to Musk's ownership of Twitter.

While Tesla owners do not seem to be following the actor's move en masse, some note that they have been on the receiving end of road rage directed toward their vehicle choice.

Although there's no official data to prove that Tesla drivers get more hate, an Axios report from August found that Iowa's "Tesla drivers are routinely heckled, cut off in traffic, and blocked from charging stations." Many put the blame on the company's CEO, Elon Musk, and the never-ending news cycle devoted to his frenzied Twitter takeover. A July poll from the research analytics firm OpinionScience found that 54% of respondents viewed Musk "negatively" - and some Tesla drivers believe they are suffering the impact of his reputation.

Tesla drivers interviewed by the Guardian say they have experienced anti-Tesla sentiment, but mostly from those who hate electric vehicles rather than Musk specifically. "Random rude drivers will swerve in my lane to yell at me, or turn on a heavy diesel exhaust that blows black smoke," Paul Albertson, who lives in Beaverton, Oregon, told the Guardian. It never happens when he drives his two other cars, a vintage 1948 Chevy and a 2014 Traverse. The culprits are most often men driving "larger pick-up trucks", he said.

John Shevelew doesn't notice too much road rage at home in York, Pennsylvania, where he is president of the state's Tesla Owners Club. Things change when he drives through the south. "I go to Texas a lot to see my daughter in Austin, and in Arkansas, Mississippi, those places, I run into, let's say, less-than-friendly looks," he said. "You get someone in a big diesel pickup truck who likes to express their dissatisfaction with the idea of an electric car."

Laura Kennedy, who also lives in Pennsylvania, agrees. "It's almost always a guy in a pickup truck [who does something]," she said. "I don't think I've ever been flipped off in my life as much as I have in the past year or so."

Teslas are common in the Bellevue, Washington, area, where Theresa Ramsdell lives and has owned two models since 2016. "People cut us off on the freeway, give us the finger, yell at me through the windows," she said. "A couple of people have not exactly tried to push me off the road, but drive real close to the side of my car and smile. It's happened to me twice going at 65 mph and it's scary."

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