AutoNation CEO Unloads on Tesla, Elon Musk

February 22, 2019, 3:54 PM UTC

Mike Jackson will step down as CEO of AutoNation, the country’s largest auto dealer chain, in March, but he’s getting a few things off his chest first—specifically, some thoughts on Elon Musk.

Jackson, speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box Friday morning, ripped into Musk and Tesla once again, especially the entrepreneur’s recent claim that Tesla will have all the features needed for a fully self driving car before the end of the year.

“I think he is overpromising on autonomous vehicles in an almost unethical way,” said Jackson.

He was no less forthcoming over Tesla’s pre-order practices, accusing the company of advertising the car at $35,000, but building different, more expensive, models instead.

“I think his bait and switch approach on selling the Model 3 where he takes hundreds of thousands of dollars in preorders at $35,000, and then does an auction where … he’ll build your vehicle for you, if you’re willing to pay a higher price. There’s not another retailer in America that could get away with that bait and switch,” he said.

Nor did he resist the urge to take a shot at Musk’s SEC troubles due to his posts on Twitter.

“I’m very proud that I can tweet without having to go through legal and I don’t have to recall my tweets,” he said.

Jackson has headed AutoNation for 20 years. He announced his departure as part of the company’s earnings announcement Friday morning. Carl Liebert, former chief operating officer at financial services company USAA, will take over the role on March 11.