It has been an eventful couple days for Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk as he has spoken out against lockdown orders that have halted the company’s vehicle manufacturing. The company has now reopened its Fremont factory despite local county orders.
According to Musk, Tesla is the only car manufacturer that hasn’t been allowed to get back to work, because of Alameda County restrictions, even if operations were approved by the state of California.
Yes, California approved, but an unelected county official illegally overrode. Also, all other auto companies in US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2020
Alameda County has prevented the plant from reopening due to safety concerns. Tesla is the only car manufacturer in California. According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, 2,715 people in the state have died with coronavirus. More than 10,000 workers in the factory churn about 415,000 vehicles every year.
Amid the chaos of an assembly woman publicly swearing at the billionaire and Musk calling stay-at-home orders “fascist”, Tesla may move its production out of California. “Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately,” Musk tweeted on May 11th.
Such a move could cause some severe delays to Tesla’s production. The company opened a plant in Shanghai last year and is currently building another outside of Berlin. Nevertheless, Fremont is home to Tesla’s HQ and is also its primary manufacturing facility.
Tesla has not yet commented on the possible delays that the move may have on the manufacturing of the popular EVs Tesla produces. Musk did say on the Joe Rogan podcast that the Roadster would take a backseat while the company focuses on the much-anticipated Cybertruck. Other projects like the new Model Y compact SUV and the building of the new car factory in Germany will also be priorities.
The chief executive’s move away from California may ultimately be an act to avoid further delays. Musk may see the state or the county of Alameda causing yet further issues to production, and he may see no further future for his business after the recent problems.
Moreover, the relocation may not be a concern as Tesla has historically been speedy with its operations. It managed to build the Shanghai plant in less than a year, with the help of quick approval from Chinese officials. The factory in Germany should also avoid any ‘major delays’ caused by the coronavirus, according to German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier. If Tesla actually carries out its withdrawal from California to other states like Texas or Nevada, we wonder if manufacturing may actually benefit from the transfer, assuming that the county’s restrictions are as severe as Musk says.
Alameda county's lockdown order says violations are punishable by fine, imprisonment or both. Musk says, “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me”, and he is planning to join the workers on the assembly line. It will be up to the county and Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is expected to list further restrictions and conditions on businesses reopening, to decide how to react to Tesla’s lockdown defiance. It’s safe to say that any further upsets could see Musk swiftly moving operations and 10,000 jobs elsewhere, and many states have shown interest in being the new site for a Tesla factory.