Tesla: The Bitcoin party is over

A bitcoin on top of Tesla logo
(Image credit: mundissima | Shutterstock)

Well, it was quite a ride for Tesla and Bitcoin. But that's all over for now.

Mercurial Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter today (May 12) to announce that the car maker would no longer accept Bitcoin to pay for any of its vehicles. Also, Tesla plans to stop selling the Bitcoin it accrued earlier this year.

The reason? Musk says he's worried about the environmental impact of Bitcoin. "We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel."

While it's good that both Elon Musk and Tesla have acknowledged the uncomfortable environmental reality when it comes to Bitcoin mining and transactions, it did take a while. After all, the car maker's entire raison d'etre revolves around making automobiles that rely on alternative sources of fuel.

Still, it's an abrupt about-face for the company. The company only started taking Bitcoin as payment for its cars back in late March, another move announced by Musk on Twitter. Bitcoin sales also accounted for $101 million of Tesla's profits last quarter, after the company sold off 10% of its holdings.

It's safe to say the market is not responding well to this change of heart about Bitcoin. Just before Musk's tweet, Bitcoin was valued at $54,602.77, according to Coindesk. As of this writing, the value is down to 51,846.91.

In fact, it's been an interesting week for Musk and cryptocurrency, with the Tesla CEO appearing on Saturday Night Live over the weekend and joking that Dogecoin was a "hustle." That sent the value of the cryptocurrency plunging by 30%.

Tesla isn't giving up on cryptocurrency completely. Musk says his company will use Bitcoin again "as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy." The Tesla CEO also promised to explore other cryptocurrencies that use a fraction of Bitcoin's energy. 

And Dogecoin could be among them: not only does it use far less energy than Bitcoin, but Musk earlier this week asked his 53 million Twitter followers if they wanted the option to buy a Tesla with Doge. Some 3.9m voted, and came out 78.2% in favor of the suggestion. 

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.