Why Does Jalopnik (The Website) Seem To Hate Tesla So Much?

Whether you’re a long time reader of Jalopnik, or you’ve only seen a few of their articles, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Jalopnik are often critical of Tesla.

For example, they recently reported on Elon Musk’s tongue-in-cheek Tweet about Putin (where Musk challenged him to a fight). Whilst this was clearly a joke, Jalopnik’s headline was:

“Elon Musk Challenges Vladimir Putin To A Fight Over Twitter Since He Isn’t The Center Of Attention Right Now

Jalopnik headline, 14th March 2022

This, of course, isn’t the only article from Jalopnik that criticizes Tesla and Elon Musk. Before diving into why this is, let’s briefy cover who Jalopnik are.

Who Are Jalopnik

A screenshot of the about Jalopnik webpage
A screenshot of the about Jalopnik webpage

Jalopnik are an internet-based news site, and they’ve been covering cars (and the wider transport industry) since they launched back in 2004.

Like Autoblog, Top Gear and others, Jalopnik have always tended to cover petrol and diesel cars. This is partly because EVs have only really become popular in the last 5 years, of course, but it’s also because Jalopnik have traditionally catered more to “petrol heads” than eco-concious drivers.

In some ways, Jalopnik have always been sceptical of Tesla. For example their article about Tesla from 2010 starts off by saying:

Tesla’s broke. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, is broke. Now Musk is traveling the country, hat in hand, begging for cash in a series of secret, closed-door meetings.

Jalopnik, 22nd June 2010

Some might argue that this was just stating the truth (Tesla’s financial issues were well documented at the time), but through the years there has often been a tinge of anti-Tesla snark in many of Jalopnik’s articles.

And if you look at their latest articles, the same is still true:

A sample of some recent Tesla related articles by Jalopnik
A sample of some recent Tesla related articles by Jalopnik

The majority of those articles are negative – or at least, have a negative slant. There’s naturally lots of positive stories that Jalopnik could write about Tesla, so what gives? Why do they seem to hate Tesla so much?

Three Reasons Why Jalopnik Seem to Hate Telsa (… and Musk!)

Tesla Model Y parked up indoors with head lights on
Tesla Model Y parked up indoors with head lights on

I think that Jalopnik’s Tesla negativity boils down to a few reasons, which I explain below.

#1: Playing To The Crowd

As mentioned earlier, Jalopnik has always traditionally been geared towards petrol heads and enthusiasts, and not EV drivers. Indeed, many EV drivers are “early adopters” and drive electric cars out of concern for the environment.

So there’s always going to be an element of “playing to the crowd” from Jalopnik, whereby they talk up gasoline cars and talk down electric cars. It’s similar to how Top Gear and others mainly discuss and review gasoline cars, and some of their older EV reviews have been somewhat negative.

Having said that, it has been interesting to see Jalopnik cover Tesla – both good and bad – over the last few years. Ultimately Jalopnik are a business, and interest in Tesla has increased loads in recent years.

So they have naturally been ‘forced’ to start writing articles on Tesla, which (surprisingly) includes some positive discussions about Tesla! Of course, their anti-Tesla snark is often present in most of the articles, but I would argue that Jalopnik are closer to “Tesla-sceptic” than “Tesla-haters” nowadays.

#2: Sensationalism Can Be Good For Business

That brings us onto the second point. There will always be a mix of media and news websites: some produce grounded, fact-based content, and others will produce sensationalism and mass-market content.

I won’t say where I think Jalopnik are on that scale (heh!), however writing contentious articles has always been a way of getting extra traffic – and hence money (via advertising revenue).

After all, when Jalopnik bash Tesla in an article, it’s common to see that article shared on Tesla communities and sub-reddits – where people then heavily criticize Jalopnik. But this actually brings Jalopnik traffic – people see the links to their website, and click them.

“There is no such thing as bad publicity”

That quote certainly seems to apply to Jalopnik, who probably get hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of extra visitors each year from diehard EV fans.

#3: They (Sometimes) Offer Valid Criticism

Someone inspecting a Tesla Model S being delivered
Someone inspecting a Tesla Model S being delivered

As mentioned above, Tesla have lots of fanboys and hardcore fans, who then get annoyed whenever Tesla are criticized. However Tesla aren’t perfect – their full-self driving programme continues to move beyond level 2 autonomous driving, and reliability of new deliveries continues to be a problem.

So sometimes Jalopnik highlight these areas of concern, and are then bashed for being anti-Tesla. I mean, they are anti-Tesla of course, but that doesn’t mean that everything they say about Tesla is invalid!

The history of Tesla is checkered, with rumors of bankruptcy, Elon Musk tweeting and being sued by the SEC, and Tesla’s reliability seemingly getting worse and worse (especially in recent years).

We’re all here because we love Tesla, of course, but some of the issues that Jalopnik highlight are valid, in my opinion.

Four Things Jalopnik Got Wrong (And Right?!) About Tesla

Before wrapping up, I wanted to cover a few points that Jalopnik have repeatedly made over the past decade or so, and whether I think they are valid critisicm or not.

Very Critical Of Tesla’s Autopilot And Full-Self Driving

Someone driving a new Tesla Model 3 on autopilot
Someone driving a new Tesla Model 3 on autopilot

Jalopnik called out Elon Musk on Twitter a few years ago, arguing that Tesla’s autopilot program is not as advertised.

This led to Elon Musk essentially calling them stupid! Jalopnik’s articles over the years have repeatedly criticized this aspect of Tesla, but are they right?

Well, it’s complicated. A Tesla might struggle to completely drive you home if you’re drunk (NB: do not get into the driver’s seat if you are drunk!), but overall Tesla’s full self-driving program is going fairly well.

The main problem that I see is that Musk has promised “full” or “complete end-to-end” self-driving for many years now, and that is still very much a work-in-progress. The internet is full of videos where Teslas almost drive themselves towards a concrete barrier, into cyclists.

Verdict: Jalopnik’s criticism is sensationalized but fair.

A Nigh-On Hatred Of Elon Musk

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., speaks during a delivery ceremony for Tesla Model S sedan in Beijing, China, 22 April 2014.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., speaks during a delivery ceremony for Tesla Model S sedan in Beijing, China, 22 April 2014.

Jalopnik very much seem to dislike Elon Musk: every other Tesla article from them seems to bash him for one reason or another.

The article started with a recent headline from Jalopnik:

“Elon Musk Challenges Vladimir Putin To A Fight Over Twitter Since He Isn’t The Center Of Attention Right Now

Jalopnik headline, 14th March 2022

The underlined part of the headline is not really necessary, in my opinion. They could have omitted that part and reported the facts, but instead they turned the article into a Musk-bashing session.

Whilst Elon Musk certainly doesn’t help himself at times, he does suffer from Asperger’s – and so some of his ‘weird’ behavior is actually a symptom of a medical condition.

Verdict: Jalopnik’s criticism is unfair.

Constantly Highlighting Tesla Reliability Concerns

Tesla service ahead sign outside a dealership in Germany
Tesla service ahead sign outside a dealership in Germany

Many of Jalopnik’s articles seem to rejoice whenever Tesla slip down in the Consumer Report’s rankings, or a Tesla breaks down for an issue that was “definitely” fixed a few years ago.

And naturally, it’s completely fair for an auto news site to report on reliability issues: that’s a big part of the service that auto sites provide to the public, after all.

But it’s now quite as easy as saying that “Tesla cars are unreliable”. The vast majority of Tesla owners are more than happy with their purchase, and Tesla cars need much less servicing and maintaining than gasoline cars. So even if there are some reliability issues and teething issues after delivery, this doesn’t seem to affect too many Tesla owner’s real-world experiences with their cars.

Verdict: Jalopnik’s criticism is fair – but Tesla owners still (generally) love their cars.

General Tesla Bias

I’ve mentioned Jalopnik’s general anti-Tesla sentiment throughout this article, so I won’t keep repeating examples. But it’s fair to say that Jalopnik have been sceptical (at best) of Tesla for well over a decade.

Of course, this wasn’t helped by the fact that Tesla have had many issues over the years – especially financial ones, where Tesla seemed to lurch from crisis to crisis, and were seemingly heading for bankrupcy.

Jalopnik picked up on this, reporting it and (sometimes) bashing Tesla – who at the time seemed to be building a very expensive pipe dream.

Thankfully for all of us, Tesla EVs are now much cheaper – and Tesla’s financial position is secure. This hasn’t stopped anti-Tesla snark on many of Jalopnik’s recent articles, though.

Verdict: Jalopnik’s criticism is unfair.

About Tristan Perry

Tristan is a software developer who is passionate about eco-friendly lifestyles - and products, such as green cars! He has loved seeing Nissan and Tesla sell loads of quality EVs over the last decade - with every other car manufacturer finally following suit.

EV adoption seems to be at a tipping point now, with 'ordinary folk' starting to order them too. This is naturally aided by very expensive gas prices, but also a genuine desire for people to try and improve the environment.

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