LVMH’s Bernard Arnault Wears the Crown Again: Elon Musk Is No Longer the World’s Richest Man as Tesla Hits a Rough Patch

Rohail Saleem
Tesla Elon Musk LVMH Bernard Arnault

This is not investment advice. The author has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Wccftech.com has a disclosure and ethics policy.

With Elon Musk trying to extricate Twitter from a broad-based revenue slump amid an escalating tiff with advertisers, Tesla is going through one of its most difficult periods of 2022, having to contend with softening demand and Autopilot-related woes, all the while Musk’s tarnished persona in the wake of the free speech-related controversy around Twitter continues to act as a significant drag on the Tesla brand.

Back in late October, Tesla slashed the prices of its EVs by up to 9.4 percent in China. At the time, this decision was justified as a shrewd attempt to capitalize on the soon-to-expire 12,000 Yuan ($1,720) subsidy that China offers on EVs. The price cut allowed the Tesla Model Y Standard Range to qualify for the subsidy by reducing the model’s price to 288,900 Yuan – below the 300,000 Yuan threshold.

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However, that temporary boost in demand is not materializing in China. Of course, the Asian giant’s zero-COVID policies have placed a macroeconomic dampener. Nonetheless, demand concerns continue to persist. For starters, Reuters reported earlier this week that Tesla was preparing to curtail its production in China by 20 percent, only to be met by a visceral denial from the EV giant. Interestingly, Tesla did not clarify which aspect of the Reuters report was false.

Then, earlier today, SCMP reported that Tesla was offering discounts of up to $859 to entice Chinese buyers, hammering home the case for a softening demand.

As if things were not precarious enough, Tesla now seems to have abandoned its current approach of relying solely on a vision-based Autopilot system, which consists of eight high-resolution cameras and a high-tech neural network to interpret the visual cues. Instead, the EV giant is now working to re-incorporate an HD radar as well.

This development comes amid a spate of troubling Autopilot-related accidents over the past few years that have now galvanized regulatory authorities. In August, California’s DMV accused Tesla of misleading customers regarding the capability of its Autopilot system. The company was also sued by a customer in the same month for “deceptive marketing.” Then, in October, reports emerged that the US Department of Justice, as well as the SEC, maintains ongoing investigations into Tesla’s Autopilot-related claims. Against this backdrop, the incorporation of radar now only vindicates the stance of Tesla critics who have panned the supposed safety of the EV giant’s much-hyped Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS).

Meanwhile, as Tesla’s robotaxis still remain a far-fetched dream, Uber officially launched such a service in collaboration with Motional in Las Vegas today.

Tesla shares are down around 12 percent over the past five trading days. Putting all of this together, it is hardly surprising that Elon Musk has now lost his title of the world’s richest person, as per the reporting by Forbes. According to the new configurations on the leadership board, LVMH’s Bernard Arnault now bears that title. Of course, this is not the first time that Musk has ceded this title to Arnault. After all, such a transition also took place back in May 2021.

Finally, there are sketchy reports out of China that suggest the company's top executive in the country might become the EV giant's global CEO, effectively replacing Musk.

Do you think Elon Musk will be able to reclaim the title of the world’s richest person amid the ongoing overhang from Twitter? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Update: Elon Musk is Back

Given the ongoing gyrations in Tesla's share price, the real-time tabulation of net worth is also changing by the minute. Reuters is now reporting that Elon Musk is back at the helm of the billionaires' club. We expect these gyrations to continue as long as the net worths of Musk and Arnault remain in close proximity.

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