Imagine yourself buying a brand-new Toyota Camry. You’ve got the keys, that new car smell is in the air and you drive around town feeling like a million bucks. Then, out of nowhere, other drivers start giving you the middle finger, randomly tailgating you and swerving in front of your car so you have to slam on the brakes. And that’s nothing compared to the diesel truck drivers who like to roll coal, spewing black exhaust that envelops your windshield.
It’s hard to imagine because that situation is unimaginable in a Camry. But according to multiple recent reports, this is exactly the situation many Tesla drivers around the U.S. are facing on a regular basis.
In August, Axios Des Moines heard from over a dozen Tesla owners in Iowa who reported being “routinely heckled, cut off in traffic and blocked from charging stations.” A week ago, The Guardian reported on the phenomenon across the U.S., with drivers of electric vehicles from Oregon to Pennsylvania saying they experience hostility that’s unique when driving a car made by Tesla. On a personal note, a friend of mine bought a Tesla a few months back, and when she posted about it on Instagram she added a caveat to the effect of, I know people have strong opinions about Tesla, but I’d rather not argue. I’ve remembered that post to this day because it was so remarkably sad.
Why are people in the so-called land of the free having to preemptively defend themselves for simply buying a new car? Why are drivers being harassed on American roads for the mere fact that they’ve chosen one vehicle over another?
According to The Guardian, “Tesla drivers [told the outlet] they have experienced anti-Tesla sentiment, but mostly from those who hate electric vehicles rather than Musk specifically,” citing increased criticism of CEO Elon Musk during his controversial takeover of Twitter. But that finding is anecdotal and not backed up by data, as they note. And we’ve seen reports in the past about Teslas being uniquely targeted, as in Inside Edition coverage last year about the phenomenon of people keying the EVs of strangers (that is, scratching them with their own car keys).
Look, we may not have the exact data on the precise reason Tesla drivers are being targeted, but we know it’s happening (thanks in large part to footage shared by said owners captured using the cars’ Sentry Mode, a camera-equipped monitoring system). And if you’re one of these harassers — whether you like flipping them the bird or get your jollies by tailgating Model 3s — you need to flip down your sun visor, take a look in the mirror and contemplate when exactly you became such an insecure mouth-breather.
If people can’t drive around in the car they’ve paid hard-earned money for without fear of harassment (or in some cases, fear for their life), then we really are going off the cliff as the country. I’ve got my own bone to pick with Elon Musk, as I’ve documented extensively, but I still would consider buying a Tesla in the future because the cars are some of the best electric vehicles available today — we need to be able to separate. And if you’re one of these diesel sniffers who are against electric vehicles in general, ask yourself this: why do you hate your life and the people around you so much that you’re against any effort by people to thwart climate change?
If you know someone whose existence is so sad that they don’t have anything better to do than endanger the lives of Tesla owners, please call them out on it. If you are one of said sad sacks, please, do what all normal deadbeats do and save your unwarranted anger for typo-ridden Facebook rants.
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