Shares of electric car giant Tesla (TSLA 5.93%) toppled and fell 4% in early trading on the Nasdaq Thursday. As of 1 p.m. ET, the stock remains down about 3.9%.
And you can blame Elon Musk himself for that.
There are actually two bits of negative news on Tesla floating around in the ether today. First, and perhaps most important to consumers, is the fact that Consumer Reports (CR) just named Ford's (F -0.66%) Mach-E electric car its top-rated EV of 2022. Indeed, as of today the Mach-E is the only fully electric car -- actually, an electric SUV -- making CR's top 10 list of 2022 automotive picks.
To emphasize the point, not only did Ford beat out Tesla, but none of Tesla's electric vehicles made the list.
The bad news doesn't end there, however, because in an unforced error, it appears that Elon Musk has just "opened mouth, inserted foot" again with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As Automotive News reports, Musk's lawyers today sent a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, accusing the SEC of "targeting Mr. Musk and Tesla for unrelenting investigation largely because Mr. Musk remains an outspoken critic of the government," and of trying to "chill his exercise of First Amendment rights."
Censorship may or may not be the reason the SEC is subpoenaing Tesla. The CEO is expected to provide proof he is adhering to the requirements of his 2018 settlement in which he promised to let Tesla management preview his tweets to ensure they don't violate any SEC regulations going forward. Just making the accusation public is likely to raise hackles at the regulator. It could cause the SEC to back off from its investigation -- or it could back regulators into a corner, giving them no alternative but to become even more aggressive in pursuing Tesla to prove they were right from the start.
Either way, it's a risky move for both Musk and Tesla. And it probably doesn't help Musk's case that last night at 2:46 a.m. he decided it would be a great idea to send out a tweet comparing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Hitler.
I have to say it's hard to see the business case for that one. You've got to figure that if Elon Musk was having cooler heads at Tesla preview his tweets, someone might have had second thoughts about sending that one out. Long story short, it kind of looks like Elon Musk is making the SEC's case for it, and this could spell more regulatory trouble for Tesla ahead.