Elon Musk thanks staff for reopening Freemont plant
INTERNATIONAL - President Donald Trump joined the debate over Elon Musk’s scorched-earth effort to reopen Tesla’s only US car plant hours after the chief executive thanked employees who risked being arrested for defying a county order.
“California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW,” Trump wrote in a tweet on Tuesday. “It can be done Fast & Safely!”
Musk, 48, said on Monday that Tesla was restarting production at its plant in Fremont, California, flouting county officials who ordered the company to stay closed. When asked on Twitter how the day went at the factory, Musk replied Tuesday: “Great.”
“Just wanted to send you a note of appreciation for working hard to make Tesla successful,” Musk wrote in an email to employees seen by Bloomberg News. “It is so cool seeing the factory come back to life and you are making it happen!!”
To follow through on his tweets claiming Tesla would move its headquarters and future programs to Nevada or Texas, the chief executive would have to uproot many of the roughly 20 000 employees the electric-car maker has in the San Francisco Bay area. About half of the company’s headcount is at the factory. Musk wrote Saturday that Tesla would decide whether to keep manufacturing in Fremont based on how Tesla is treated in the future.
Tesla shares rose as much as 3.2 percent shortly after the open of regular trading. The stock has surged more than 90 percent this year.
After prevailing in a defamation suit and emerging mostly unscathed from a court fight with the Securities and Exchange Commission last year, Musk is waging another legal battle. This time, he’s tangling with health officials over measures to contain a virus that he downplayed starting in January.
Musk has claimed Covid-19 isn’t all that viral a disease, called panic about it “dumb” and theorized fatality rates are overstated. He’s also promoted the antimalarial drugs President Donald Trump embraced that haven’t proved effective and wrongly predicted that new cases would be close to zero by the end of April.
The standoff with California has come to represent the tense debate playing out in states and counties across America over how fast businesses should be allowed to reopen. The nation’s top infectious disease official, Anthony Fauci, is expected to warn against reopening the economy too soon during a Senate hearing Tuesday, saying that doing so risks new coronavirus outbreaks throughout the US.