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Amassing support, Elon Musk moves forward and reopens Tesla's factory
Posted on May 12, 2020 by Matt Pressman
The tide is turning at Tesla after a tumultuous weekend. A quick recap: the Fremont factory has been shuttered due to COVID-19 since March 19th. However, last week California's Governor gave the green light to manufacturers to reopen. In a surprising power grab, in direct conflict with California's Governor (and Federal guidelines), an unelected "interim" official in Alameda County decided to force Tesla's Fremont factory to remain closed.
Above: Tesla's factory (Source: True)
In response, Elon Musk promptly sued Alameda County and threatened to leave California. Local support for Tesla was swift. The Mayor of Fremont, Lily Mei, announced, "As the local shelter-in-place order continues without provisions for major manufacturing activity, such as Tesla, to resume, I am growing concerned about the potential implications for our regional economy... the City is prepared to support Tesla.”
In turn, Adrian Fine, Mayor of Palo Alto (where Tesla's HQ is located), also announced, "I would be really sad and disappointed if Tesla left the City of Palo Alto, and stand ready to help. I truly appreciate having a cutting edge company based here, employing people, paying taxes, and helping to solve the climate crisis. Happy to help Elon Musk."
The Bay Area Council voiced their support as well. Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council said, “We strongly urge Alameda County public health officials to work with Tesla and other employers in figuring out a plan that can allow them to safely resume operations sooner rather than later."
Above: Inside the decision to reopen Tesla's factory (YouTube: Reuters)
Along with support from local authorities, the U.S. Treasury Secretary also weighed in yesterday. Steven Mnuchin said on CNBC, "I agree with Elon Musk. He’s one of the biggest employers and manufacturers in California, and California should prioritize doing whatever they need to do to solve those health issues so that he can open quickly and safely."
Then, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced in yesterday's press conference, "As it relates to Tesla, I have long been a strong advocate and supporter... I have great reverence for their technology, for their innovative spirit [and] their leadership. And I have great expectations that we can work through, at the county level, the issue with this particular county."
Meanwhile, all other U.S. auto companies have been approved to resume factory production. Only Tesla has been singled out. With support at the federal, state, and local levels, Elon Musk decided it was time to reopen Tesla's factory. He tweeted, "Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the [production] line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me."
Update: Some, critical of Tesla in the past, have also rallied to support the factory reopening. AutoNation's CEO, Mike Jackson told CNBC, "I support Elon Musk. Tesla should open." CNBC also reported, this morning, that the President tweeted, "California should let Tesla & Elon Musk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!" Tesla discussed its approach extensively via the company's recent blog post and their comprehensive Return to Work Playbook.