The Model Y will be a test of Tesla’s popularity

Elon Musk often says the key to Tesla’s success is how people talk about the company. “Great word-of-mouth is why Model 3 is the best-selling electric car, despite no advertising or paid endorsements,” he wrote in September 2018. The company repeatedly admits this, too — in its most recent 10-K filing with the SEC, Tesla said word of mouth, along with media coverage, “have been the primary drivers of our vehicle sales leads,” which is how and why the company eschews traditional advertising.

But Tesla, still coming off a volatile 2018, has recently made changes in the name of cost-cutting that put this basic tenet of the company in some jeopardy. With Tesla closing many of its stores and shifting sales to an online-only model, the company…

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