Like Apple fans before them, Tesla aficionados have gained a reputation for intense obsession. But how does an electric car company produce so many enthusiasts who, in turn, produce their own content—like podcasts and YouTube videos—about the company?
In 2015, Ryan McCaffrey, Executive Editor at IGN, started Ride The Lightning, which he labeled as an unofficial Tesla podcast. As he discusses in the first episode, McCaffrey started the podcast because—despite talking his friends' and family's ears off about the car maker—he still had more to say. He looked for Tesla podcasts, but there weren't many options at the time.
That's no longer the case. Castbox.fm estimates that across all podcast platforms, nearly half of the available Tesla podcasts launched in the last year, and that Tesla podcasts have seen millions of downloads. On YouTube, Tesla content is everywhere, with topics like AutoPilot, software updates, maintenance, and track racing a constant source of intrigue.
"The Tesla community is growing, and so more and more people are developing that enthusiasm," McCaffrey says. "And I think there's still a feeling that we're at the very beginning of all of this—that Tesla is a little secret club that it's super fun to welcome new people into. The community's shared enthusiasm is one of my favorite parts of Tesla ownership."
McCaffrey now has more than 200 episodes of Ride The Lightning under his belt, and counts Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen among his guests. But while fast cars and Tesla technology are the genesis for most of the intrigue and interest in the company, they aren't the only areas of interest.
"I'm a technology and business enthusiast first," says Rob Maurer of the Tesla Daily podcast. "These interests, unsurprisingly, led to a fascination with Tesla that really began in early 2013. The stock caught my attention during its huge rise that year."
Maurer's podcast is heavy on the investment and business aspects of Tesla—and there's certainly a lot to talk about there. Glowing headlines and enthusiasm about new products like the Cybertruck go hand in hand with controversies, from Musk's battles with the SEC to production delays.
Fans appear undeterred. Tesla Daily has more than 600 Patreon supporters who contribute more than $5,000 a month. "I'm most proud of the credibility I've built over the last couple of years by thoroughly researching and relentlessly fact-checking," says Maurer. "There's a lot of misinformation out there these days."
For Michael Bodner, Tesla isn't his job, just how he spends a lot of his free time. During the day he's a director of operations for a residential property management company, but in his spare time he's taken to creating YouTube videos about his Tesla Model 3, including upgrades and maintenance.
Bodner didn't have much interest in watching YouTube, let alone making his own videos, but videos posted to his Teslatunity channel are closing in on a million views in just about a year.
"I filmed how amazing Autopilot was and needed a place to put it, so I could share it on the forum, so I just threw it on YouTube," Bodner says. "The next video was about how I wash my car—there were a lot of questions about the 2-bucket method so I thought I would share. That video got such a good response that I realized something was there and just kept putting out more content."
His answer to why he loves Tesla cars? "Ahhh that question seems so easy and yet so hard at the same time, I don't think it's just one thing, but all things."
Ryan McCaffrey says his enthusiasm started when he got to drive the original Roadster in 2009 and fell in love with the car and the technology.
"There are a lot of great cars out there, but none of them are a genuine paradigm shift compared to everything you've ever driven in your entire life the way a Tesla is," McCaffrey says. "The fact that Tesla as a company leans into the 'fun' aspects of the car, too—the fart sounds, the Spaceballs references, the Easter eggs, video games—makes it feel like Tesla itself is having as much fun making these cars as we are driving them."
Tesla Daily's Rob Maurer agrees. "The way I describe what I do to friends is to say, 'If I'd have been doing this 10-15 years ago, I'd have been talking about Apple," he said. "That's the sort of intense consumer interest Tesla has been able to generate and the only other company that has captured my interest at a level similar to Tesla. People love cars (especially fast cars). People love technology. I'd be hard pressed to come up with an overlap that could generate more interest. Then you throw Elon Musk in the mix."
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