Column: In defense of picking Joe Manchin, Elon Musk as Automotive News All-Stars

It’s easy to be distracted by Elon Musk’s insatiable appetite for attention and boundless capacity for stirring up controversy, especially since his October purchase of a $44 billion megaphone called Twitter and the ensuing corporate chaos at the social media network. Will Twitter even be functioning by the time you read this?

But remember, he’s also in charge of a car company, one that has had another enormously successful year, earning him his fourth All-Star award, this year in the Luxury category.

With only four nameplates and no significant exterior or interior redesigns, Tesla continues to defy conventional expectations and leads the U.S. luxury market by a wide margin, thanks in part to branding and also to sidestepping some of the supply chain pitfalls experienced by rival automakers. Experian reported 346,827 Tesla registrations this year through September, compared with 236,513 for BMW, 204,120 for Mercedes-Benz and 201,830 for Lexus.

It’s not just the BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes and Lexuses of the world chasing Tesla. Every automaker, either well-established or trying to crawl over this industry’s high barrier of entry, would kill to have the brand appeal that Tesla has.

Panel gaps? Software glitches? Bad PR over AutoPilot? Lack of a service network? Musk’s Twitter antics and specious free-speech arguments? Yes, some customers have turned in their Teslas and not looked back, but legions of Elon fans in the U.S. and abroad are largely unbothered.

And with the opening of factories in Austin, Texas, and Germany this year, Tesla shows no signs of cooling down anytime soon.

That’s something worth tweeting about.

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