Tesla’s stock tanks amid deadly crash investigation, harassment allegations, and ESG index drop, as Musk claims persecution
Tesla’s stock lost US$66 billion in market capitalization on Friday amid a perfect storm of deadly Autopilot crash investigation, Elon Musk’s sexual harassment allegations, and Tesla’s expulsion from a sustainability stock index.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has dispatched a team of investigators to probe a triple fatality crash involving a Model S they suspect was driving in a partially automated mode. The crash on May 12 killed the Tesla car’s driver and the two passengers on the spot, while workers on the construction site that the Model S slammed in were also injured. The NHTSA released a memo saying that this is the 34th investigation into car accidents that may have occurred while advanced driving assistance systems were switched on, and 28 of those probes involved a Tesla.
As if to add further fuel to Tesla’s stock market rout, Elon Musk had to deny sexual harassment allegations that surfaced the previous day, allegedly from a flight attendant who claims he exposed himself to her while being given a massage. Space X eventually settled the charges for a quarter of a million dollars, reports a potential victim’s friend, against a non-disclosure agreement. Elon Musk categorically denied that the incident happened as described, yet Tesla’s shares took another hit by being removed from the S&P 500 ESG index for environmental, social, and governance sustainability.
The S&P Group that manages the ESG inclusion criteria cites the Autopilot crash investigations by the NHTSA, as well as the recent racial discrimination and working condition charges against Tesla for the stock’s expulsion from the index. According to Elon Musk’s abundant tweets in the last few days, the perfect storm that wiped US$12 billion from his personal fortune in Tesla stock alone, is politically motivated. He recently expressed his voting preferences as Republican and said he might reinstate former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account should his troubled acquisition of the social media platform goes through.
In addition, Elon Musk just met with Brazil’s rightwing president Jair Bolsonaro to discuss some social projects, Starlink connectivity, and an eventual Tesla Gigafactory: "Super excited to be in Brazil for launch of Starlink for 19,000 unconnected schools in rural areas & environmental monitoring of Amazon," he tweeted. In any case, Tesla’s share price is at last August’s levels and the carnage may continue next week in sync with the general stock market malaise.
The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens – this is their standard (despicable) playbook – but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2022