On Saturday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk threatened to move both the company headquarters and production facilities to Texas or Nevada if they were not allowed to reopen as soon as possible.
Tesla’s Fremont plant to remain closed despite California now allowing factories to restart
The threat came after the state partially enacted Phase 2 of reopening California on Friday, which includes reopening factories and warehouses under coronavirus social distancing guidelines. Musk had announced restarting the Fremont plant the same day under ‘limited operations’, even praising Governor Gavin Newsom over allowing manufacturing to restart. However, since county and city lawmakers could trump any state reopening phases due to different population densities and coronavirus rates, Alameda County refused to reopen any manufacturing. Interim Alameda County Health Officer Erica Pan specifically noted Tesla in a statement on Friday.
“We have not given the green light. We have been working with them looking at some of their safety plans. But no, we have not said that it is appropriate to move forward,” explained Pan.
Alameda County itself noted in a statement that “We welcome Tesla’s proactive work on a reopening plan, so that once they fit the criteria to reopen, they can do so in a way that protects their employees and the community at large.”
The decision by Pan, which was made with public health and safety in mind, forced Musk to stall his reopening plans. With the Alameda County lockdown order now in place until the end of the month, Musk responded to the latest blow to his company by denouncing Pan, filing a lawsuit against the county, and announcing a possible move out of California.
“Tesla is filing a lawsuit against Alameda County immediately. The unelected & ignorant “Interim Health Officer” of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense,” said Musk in a series of now deleted tweets on Saturday. “Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA.”
An entire industry at risk in California
If Musk stands by his threat, Tesla’s relocation would move thousands of jobs in Fremont and Palo Alto, where Tesla’s HQ is, out of the state and once again leave California without an automobile factory.
“California, particularly the San Francisco Bay area, should be very concerned about this,” noted Automotive Industry consultant Phillip Logan. “Tesla gives a lot of credibility to California’s manufacturing commitment. But they can can easily lose an entire sector now thanks to this.
Whoever that County official is denying them reopening is pretty much dooming California’s chances at ever getting a car factory again. And Tesla can easily move too because they aren’t associated with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
We know coronavirus hasn’t gone away, but the state itself is seeing how much safer it is now. That county official has no idea how the real world works and what the consequences are of not even considering what reopening can do. And now it looks like it just cost California a lot.
If this were Michigan, and GM was threatening to move to Alabama, people would be rioting in the streets.
It’s really that unbelievable.”
More announcements from Tesla and Alameda County over the issue are expected this coming week.
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