Tesla volunteers are mobilizing once more to help the electric car maker deliver as many vehicles as it can before the end of the second quarter. These volunteer-driven initiatives are happening not only in the United States, but in foreign territories as well. Earlier this month, for example, reports emerged stating that Tesla owners from Beijing are volunteering their time and effort to help the company hand over electric cars to new buyers.
This remarkable community-driven initiative initially started out of necessity amidst Tesla’s efforts to hit profitability back in Q3 2018, but it quickly evolved into something of a tradition among electric car enthusiasts. For some Tesla owners, volunteering their time and helping the company is a worthwhile endeavor, and it is something that they do not mind doing every quarter. This is true for the Tesla Owners Silicon Valley group, who visited three Tesla locations this Friday to deliver over 100 donuts for the electric car maker’s employees.
For John, the president of the group, doing something as simple as sharing food for the company’s workers goes a long way, particularly at the current time where the narrative surrounding the company is persistently negative. “We love the Tesla brand. Unfortunately, the media is cutting them down any chance they get. It’s like kicking a horse that’s down. We do small things like volunteering at the delivery center and giving donuts to show our appreciation,” he wrote in a message to Teslarati.
Tesla’s volunteer-driven end-of-quarter initiatives are incredibly unique simply because they caught on despite the pervading negativity around the company. When Elon Musk initially responded positively to owner-enthusiast Ryan McCaffrey’s suggestion that the company accept help from volunteers last year, Tesla was mocked incessantly. Auto-themed website Jalopnik, for one sarcastically dubbed the community-driven program as a way for the billionaire Musk to tap into “free labor from generous, giving fans.” Undeterred, the community helped nonetheless, and it resulted in Tesla posting a profit in Q3 2018.
Perhaps critics find it difficult to rationalize why regular Tesla owners are open to volunteering their time and effort to help the electric car maker. In this sense, it appears that one must have a personal encounter with one of the company’s creations to understand why Tesla commands such a strong following, both among owners and enthusiasts alike.
Marques Brownlee, a Model S owner better known on YouTube as MKBHD, noted that it is really all about the product when it comes to Tesla. Narrating his experiences with the company in a message to Teslarati, the prolific tech YouTuber, who has used and reviewed his own fair share of hyped products over the years, noted that he became comfortable talking about Tesla when he developed a passion for its electric cars. “The main thing that got me to talk about Tesla is the product itself. The company could have all the hype in the world, and all the greatest incentives, but if the product didn’t live up to it, everything would fall flat for me. But testing and now owning the car was all it took for me to develop a passion for the product, just like I have for many other tech products in the past,” Brownlee wrote in a message to Teslarati.
Tesla owner-enthusiast and Ride the Lightning podcast host Ryan McCaffrey is on the same camp. Being an enthusiast long before he owned his Model 3 Performance, McCaffrey stated that there is just something unique and remarkable about the company’s creations. “It’s the products. No one would care as deeply about Tesla as many in the community do if the products weren’t incredible. It’s why one test drive is all it takes to convert so many new owners. It’s an instant, oh-my-goodness-this-is-amazing experience,” he wrote.
Some owners even go above and beyond with their efforts to introduce new electric car buyers to the Tesla ecosystem. Among these is longtime Tesla owner Vivianna Van Deerlin, who, together with her husband, created an actual “Tesla Boot Camp” program for new owners. For the Van Deerlins, Tesla has become much more than a simple company that just happens to make excellent, compelling electric cars. “The company inspires us because they have a mission (that’s) important for humanity. It is bigger than just the corporation,” Vivianna wrote.
A look at the later portions of Tesla’s 2019 Annual Shareholder Meeting shows that similar sentiments run across the company’s investors. During the Q&A portion of the meeting, several shareholders brought up the issue of the overwhelmingly negative narrative surrounding the company, and it showed a level of empathy for a company that rarely seen. Some even personally offered to help address the misinformation surrounding Tesla. Musk admitted that the constant negativity thrown at Tesla is distressing, though he, together with CTO JB Straubel and VP for Tech Drew Baglino, thanked the shareholders for being the electric car maker’s line of defense. “Customer testimony and referrals are the key to our sales,” Musk said.
So what is it really about Tesla that makes it easy for owners to become enthusiasts? Perhaps it is the company’s mission of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy, or perhaps it is the flourishing community that has, in multiple instances, shown empathy towards its members. Regardless, it appears that Tesla, at this point, has pretty much become an idea; one that represents the possibility of a more sustainable future. And as history would show us, it takes far more than an aggressively negative narrative to bring down an idea.
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Author: Simon Alvarez