Elon Musk’s fiendish conundrum

On the night before Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s first-quarter results on April 23rd, your columnist brought his car to a halt, noticing a futuristic vehicle hooked up to a Tesla charging station in Los Angeles. It was a dark-purple Cybertruck. Twinkling lights glittered behind the tinted windows. It looked so wedgelike, angular and otherworldly that it could have moonlighted as an armoured personnel carrier in “Civil War”, a new apocalyptic film.

Its owner, Dennis Wang, is a Tesla devotee. Besides his four-month-old Cybertruck, he has owned Mr Musk’s original (“sexy”) quartet: the Models s, 3, x and y. He has held shares in the company since 2018. He has full faith in Mr Musk. Despite a 40% plunge in Tesla’s share price this year in the run-up to the earnings report, as well as the announcement in recent weeks of falling vehicle sales and unprecedented lay-offs, he believes the billionaire remains the best person to run the company. Even an embarrassing Cybertruck recall, caused by a stuck accelerator, was quickly fixed, he says, pointing to a new bolt in the pedal.