Tesla's forum is disappearing, is there a decent alternative?
Many of our readers enjoy the Tesla Forums, and from time to time important bits of Tesla-related news have surfaced there. However, Tesla has now retired the Tesla Forums (they’re still available, but comments and posts are now read-only) and replaced them with a new platform called the Tesla Engagement Hub (or Tesla Engagement Platform—the name appears to be a work in progress).
Above: Tesla's Model 3 (Source: EVANNEX; Photo by Casey Murphy)
The new site, at least in its current form, doesn’t seem like a replacement for the Tesla Forums. Some posts do allow registered users to comment, but it isn’t exactly a discussion group. This could very well change in the future, but at the moment, the focus is on the owners’ clubs, and on mobilizing Tesla fans to get involved with political issues and charities.
Fans of free-wheeling exchanges of views have no need to worry, however—there are several other sites with public forums for Tesla-related discussions. The Tesla Motors Club is perhaps the best-known of these—note that the discussions there can get pretty contentious. Another one we recommend is Tesla Owners Online, where Trevor Page and his team do an excellent job of moderating. Several of the local owners’ clubs, such as Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley, feature forums on their sites, although these are usually limited to members. And, although it’s not exactly a forum, some good information gets exchanged among Tesla owners on Reddit’s Tesla Motors sub.
So, what is the new Tesla Engagement Hub, exactly? “Tesla Engage is a new platform for both Tesla’s public policy team and Tesla Owner’s Clubs,” says the company. “Its goal is to create a digital home base for all of our work, and make it easier for Tesla community members to learn what’s top of mind for us, take meaningful action, and stay in the loop. We hope you’ll join us in getting involved.”
This is the first we’ve heard of Tesla’s “public policy team.” CNBC (via Mashable) reports that the company recently dissolved its public relations team, but I think I can speak for most of my colleagues in the EV media when I say: “Tesla had a public relations team?” For better or for worse, engagement with the press is yet another auto industry tradition that Tesla has more or less jettisoned. A few favored journalists occasionally get an answer to an email, but that’s about it. As for the wine-and-dine press junkets that other automakers lay on, all I know is I haven’t been invited to any.
Anyway, the new site isn’t aimed at the press, but rather at owners and fans, specifically at inspiring them to get involved in the political process, for example by contacting government agencies and lawmakers about potential policies that would affect Tesla or the clean-tech industries. CNBC notes that the launch of Tesla Engage “suggests that there’s at least someone tasked with crafting the company’s messaging—and mobilizing fans as Tesla’s private lobbying army.”
That army is a large one, and it has marched to battle in the past. For example, in 2013, a White House petition to allow Tesla to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states got 111,985 signatures, far more than the threshold of 100,000 needed for the administration to review it. (The Obama administration replied that it had no power to change current laws regulating auto sales, which are made at the state level.)
There are currently a couple of posts on the new site that encourage members of the Tesla movement to get involved in local issues.
One of these concerns Nebraska, where state legislators are considering a bill that would allow Tesla and other young automakers to sell vehicles directly to consumers. The platform provides a quick and easy way for Nebraska residents to submit public comments on the issue to their elected representatives.
Another post concerns disaster relief in Texas, home to Tesla’s new Terafactory and several SpaceX facilities. It includes a list of charities that are working to help Texans recover from the recent weather and energy disaster.
Most major companies and industry groups have their lobbyists in state and federal capitals, and Tesla is no exception (it also has a showroom in the center of the lobbying district, just off K Street in DC). Mobilizing the vast network of Tesla owners, partners and well-wishers could be an even more effective (and certainly cheaper) way to help electrify the halls of power. Encouraging citizens to become more politically engaged is always a good thing, so we’re all for the Tesla Engagement Hub. Now about those press junkets...
Written by: Charles Morris