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Tesla chief Elon Musk's latest outburst raises doubts on leadership, rattles investors

18 July 2018

In a TV interview, British diver Vern Unsworth criticized Musk and SpaceX engineers for sending a small submarine to help divers rescue the 12 Thai soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave.

The "pedo" comment came after a spat with diver Vernon Unsworth, who had told CNN that Musk's rescue submarine, the one he bragged about on Twitter for creating it specifically for the rescue mission, was nothing but a "PR stunt". When asked if he'd take legal action against Musk, Unsworth said he's considering the possibility.

Unsworth had criticized Musk's submarine as a "PR stunt" and said, "He can stick his submarine where it hurts". Musk didn't name Unsworth in his series of tweets over the weekend, though he said he would make a video to prove that the mini sub could have helped in the rescue.

The tweets were later deleted.

When Twitter users called out Musk's attack on Unsworth as unfair, he doubled down.

Ironically, Musk said in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday that he would try to be less combative on Twitter.

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Makers of all-electric cars and their buyers qualify for the $7,500 subsidy until the company sells a cumulative 200,000 vehicles in the United States. Now, the diver says he might sue.

Challenged on the social media site to provide evidence to support his accusation, Musk tweeted: "Bet ya a signed dollar it's true".

Mr Unsworth yesterday said he had only heard about the tweets.

After Tesla shares fell 22 per cent in March - the steepest monthly drop in more than seven years - Musk jokingly tweeted on April Fools' Day that the company had gone bankrupt.

Zhao said he believed Musk originally had "good intentions", but that "humanitarian rescues ... are professional tasks so we should trust others with local community connections". He has nearly half as many as U.S. President Donald Trump, who likewise attacks his critics with relish on Twitter.

Tesla shares skidded 2.75 per cent to close at US$310.10 (S$421.60) following the latest controversy, adding to pressure on the electric automaker which has struggled to meet production targets for its Model 3, seen as crucial to its long-term viability.

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Musk is known for his comebacks aimed at journalists and Wall Street analysts.

"Don't be so sure those tax credits are going away just yet", he said, noting a report of Musk's political contributions.

When asked if he would consider legal action against Mr Musk over the comments, he said, "yes, it's not finished".

Anderson and others noted how Tesla has been at the forefront of electric auto development and reducing carbon emissions - and Musk's controversial Twitter comments could jeopardize that.

"He should focus on his profession", Zhao said, adding that if Musk wanted to help these kinds of causes, he should have a separate charity organization.

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Tesla chief Elon Musk's latest outburst raises doubts on leadership, rattles investors