Even George Clooney is complaining about Tesla

The celebrity's gripes about his car cap a difficult 6 days for the automaker.

By The Week Nov 12, 2013 1:08PM
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk drives a Model S at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. on October 1, 2011 (© Stephen Lam/Newscom/Reuters)Last week, after almost a year of unbeatable reviews and a rising stock price, Tesla Motors (TSLA) hit the skids.

In just six short days, the company released a weaker-than-expected earnings report, George Clooney gave his Tesla a bad review, and -- most significantly by far -- a third Model S burst into flames.

That's a lot for a baby car brand to take in one week. Though the earnings report was mostly positive, a couple unexpected blemishes overshadowed rising sales and production. In the third quarter, Tesla sold fewer zero emission certificates to other car makers -- historically an important source of revenue for the company -- and released a weaker-than-predicted projection for future results.

In just three hours after the release, the stock dropped $20, more than 11 percent.

Then Clooney spoke up. In a profile for the December issue of Esquire, the actor said:
“I had a Tesla. I was one of the first cats with a Tesla. I think I was, like, number five on the list. But I’m telling you, I’ve been on the side of the road a while in that thing. And I said to them, ‘Look, guys, why am I always stuck on the side of the (expletive) road? Make it work, one way or another.’ ” [Esquire]
Clooney's diss might not have smarted so much if it wasn't bolstered by recent news events: Last week, the third Tesla sedan in six weeks burst into flames near Smyrna, Tenn. With only about 19,000 Teslas on the road, a third fire was enough to spark an investigation by the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Megan McArdle at Bloomberg explains why this is troubling:
Even if it turns out nothing is wrong with its engineering, Tesla could be in big trouble. Small, new companies are extraordinarily vulnerable to stories like this; they don’t have brand loyalty, and a history of reliable products, to carry them through rumors, much less bad engineering decisions. [Bloomberg]

"If the government actually finds a design flaw, consumers may be unlikely to give Tesla a second chance to do it right," says McArdle.

But Daniel Gross at The Daily Beast says Tesla's troubles -- even the combustible sedans -- are just a bump in the road:
Car purchases aren’t always about economic rationality and functionality. People buy vehicles because they’re status symbols, or because they want to express themselves, or because certain cars function as cultural markers and personal advertisements. Just as driving a Hummer marked you as a certain kind of person in 2005, driving a Tesla marks you as a certain kind of person in 2013. Owners prowl around wealthy suburbs announcing themselves as wealthy, carbon-free, early adopters with money to burn. People who can’t afford a Tesla but still love what the company stands for, purchase Tesla’s stock out of the same impulse. Some raving fans do both.

And no blow-up -- financial or physical -- will deter them. [The Daily Beast]
More from The Week
Tags: TSLA
Nov 12, 2013 2:02PM
For those of you that can remember the Tucker automobile that was ahead of it's time, just look what the auto industry did to him.  Enough said.
Nov 12, 2013 1:52PM
Who gives a **** what clooney says. 
A car company has many things to stay on top of. At least this is a fixable problem. Just more media ****.
Nov 12, 2013 2:21PM

Oh shut up already you "self important" arrogant - "oh look at the problems of me" phony!

Why spending money on Toys when you should be putting that money towards one of your liberal causes no?

The rich like you should learn to shut up because your troubles don't resonate with average people.

" Oh my God my Tesla lit up on me- heavens hope the Grey Poupon wasn't in there too"?

It comes off as a complete whine while expounding on your opulence!

Is there anything this guy does not complain about?  C'mon Mr. Clooney, life is too short to be such a pessimist.
Nov 12, 2013 3:31PM
George, you can't pack a dozen young men into your 'Tesla' and expect to get any kind of mileage.
Rock Hudson found that out the hard way.

Nov 12, 2013 3:29PM
George Clooney didn't own a Tesla Model S. He owned a Lotus Elise-based Tesla Roadster, the first car Tesla produced and the test platform for their early battery technology, built between 2008 and 2012. Tesla no longer builds the Roadster. If George had "number five," that would have been a 2008 model. Important distinction.
Nov 12, 2013 3:37PM

Now I know why he gave the car to Justin Beiber...

Good work George, I almost like you now!!


Nov 12, 2013 3:35PM
Spent the weekend driving a friend's Type S Tesla.  It is the most impressive car I've ever driven, and that includes Lexus, Mercedes, and Rolls.  Wish I could afford one.  The fact that Clooney doesn't like it just makes me even more impressed with the auto.
Nov 12, 2013 3:43PM


Guess you didn't read the report but Tesla paid off their Tarp loan of $465 million 10 years earlier than due

Nov 12, 2013 4:44PM
Clooney picks bad cars like he picks bad Politicians.
Nov 12, 2013 2:26PM
The liberal media wants Tesla to fail because their cars are too costly for the average consumer.  The Prius is a piece of crap that looks like a shopping cart, is underpowered, and uncomfortable to sit in, but do you see the MSNBC limousine liberals bitching about that???
Nov 12, 2013 5:26PM
I'm glad I helped pay for Clooney's $7500 tax credit, what a country this socialist US is.
Nov 12, 2013 2:00PM
Well mr clooney is nothing other then a communist idiot anyways, who gives a crap what he thinks, I will buy a tesla just to sptie this moron.
Nov 12, 2013 4:40PM

WAH!    Do you want some cheese to go with that wine!    Drive to the nearest  Benz or Jaguar dealer trade it in and move on Clooney.

Nov 12, 2013 4:42PM

Can't believe Americans are so stupid. Its not about the car its about the money, i.e stock price. About 4 months ago financial news starting carrying stories about how some "analysts" were saying Tesla stock was "overvalued". Low and behold  -  a few months later Tesla cars started mysteriously bursting into flame  - which surprise, surprise knocked a few bucks off the stock price.


Now if you were one of those analysts that advised their clients to "short" Tesla (that is purchase an option/contract) betting that Tesla's stock price would go down, you look like a frackin genius! This is why Elizabeth Warren is right and we need MORE not less regulation of the financial markets. I bet $100 bucks if you pulled and analyzed every Tesla trade between June 1st and now you'd find somebody(s) who bet and made a  shitload of money shorting Tesla stock. Its a short distance from that to finding out if these mysterious "accidents" were really that or..................? Wouldn't shock me at all to find out that the investors that made a killing on this actually had ties to Tesla (albeit thru an impenetrable maze of shell companies and offshore corporations). Oh they probably didn't pay any taxes on the profits either. They commit financial fraud and get richer while shifting the tax burden on to you and me.


Entitlement Welfare at the top is killing us just as bad as Entitlement Welfare at the bottom is.

Wake up America!

Nov 12, 2013 6:22PM

Be very cautious of stories relating to electric vehicles failure, and "Burst into flames......"


There are players that wish you to remain addicted to oil. There are those players that wish you to remain in gasoline powered conveyance. Make it fail at any cost--that's the name of the game.


They have much to lose in this game. Remember the Tucker automobile of the late 1940's? Probably not. You weren't born yet. But remember this:


                                           "There is nothing new under the sun."

Nov 12, 2013 5:15PM
Maybe my older age (than George Clooney) gives me more learned knowledge, but I've never been one to be "the first on the block" to buy any new product.  Firsts invariably have issues, just consider new PC operating versions, and PCs have been around a LOT longer than Tesla!  Seems like having more money than you know what to do with, has its issues!  Learn a lesson George!
Nov 12, 2013 6:29PM
Clooney seems to be complaining about everything lately. who gives a crap what he thinks. just cuz he's a movie star we're supposed to care. and if your #5 on the list for a brand new car manufacturer did he really think it was going to be bug free? he lives in a world of fiction like most of his movies!
Nov 12, 2013 5:34PM
The "forces" of the US auto makers are starting materialize....watch the movie "Tucker".......
Nov 12, 2013 7:44PM

Ok, IF I have done my math right, assuming a minimum of 19,000 Tesla model S cars on the road, 3 have caught fire for some reason - that is .0158% of the cars being driven.


In other, older news, from a source truly concerned with public safety is Consumer Reports which said the Tesla is the safest car they ever tested.


For comparison - I guess we could do a fast search on recalls by any of the big five auto companies and what there issues this month are!

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