Tesla continues to dominate electric vehicle sales around the world – it sold far more EVs in the month of June than any other car company – but there are suggestions that the brand is starting to lose its “cool factor.”
There could be a number of different reasons for this: possibly Tesla fatigue, its dominance of EV sales, or even pushback against CEO Elon Musk’s management and behaviour on Twitter/X.
Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas, one of the best analysts of the EV transition in the auto industry, says that his firm’s latest survey of its 575 summer interns – what he regards as an interesting litmus test for the next generation of consumers – found that Tesla has lost its top brand ranking.
“This marks the first year of the survey where Tesla is not the most desirable car brand,” Jonas writes in a new note to investors.
He says Tesla’s desirability among the interns fell to 14 per cent from 19 per cent last year, and from more than 30 per cent in each of the three previous years.
It has now been overtaken by Mercedes (which is up to 20 per cent from 17 per cent), and is closely followed by the likes of Audi and BMW, with the likes of Jeep, Lexus and Rivian a long way behind.
Of course, the preferences of aspiring investment bankers might only reflect one small though deep pocketed part of the car market, but if anyone can afford EVs, then this group surely can, or will.
But Jonas notes that the buying or leasing intentions of the interns over the next five years are mostly focused on hybrids (39 per cent), and even ICE (internal combustion engine) cars rank higher than EVs at 23 per cent versus 22 per cent.
Maybe Morgan Stanley needs to adjust its summer intern recruitment criteria, but this likely reflects some of the headwinds in the US market for EVs, where the major car makers are losing money on EV hand over fist, and are not so keen on accelerating the transition while they make dollars selling ICE.
Jonas observes in another note that consumers and OEMs (car makers) are “blinking” on the uptake of EVs, and the June market share in the US was just 7.8 per cent. That is even lower than Australia, which is supposed to be trailing the world by some distance.
The Morgan Stanley interns also have upgraded their views on owning or leasing a car and if that will be a necessity in 2030. Some 48 per cent now think it will be, up from 44 per cent last year, suggesting that in 2030 you may well own your own car, and that full autonomy and robs-taxis may not be as imminent as some think.
See: Death spiral for cars. By 2030, you probably won’t own one
Still, all is not lost for Tesla. In June, it sold 221,000 EVs across the globe, far above its nearest competitor, China’s BYD, with 117,000, and VW coming in third with 63,000. The two top selling EVs across the globe were the Model Y and the Model 3.
“We believe Tesla’s ubiquity will continue as the company drives down price and pushes volume, competing to be the next Toyota rather than the next Mercedes,” he notes.