Posted on January 11, 2017 by Matt Pressman
Wait... huh? This seemed impossible at first. Donald Trump has vacillated from tweeting that global warming was a Chinese "hoax" to admitting "some connectivity" between human activity and climate change. He's been a staunch supporter for the fossil fuel industry. His top appointees are part of the energy industry's old guard. The biggest example would be Trump's pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the former Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil. How could it be possible for Trump to show any support for Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] or its CEO Elon Musk?
Above: Donald Trump and Elon Musk (Image: Charged)
We reported early on that there might be an outside chance that Musk (and Tesla) could get an "inside track" to Trump via Musk's old PayPal business partner, Peter Thiel. This did, in fact, bear fruit once Musk was invited to Trump's tech industry summit which included 15 top Silicon Valley executives. Interestingly, only two execs, Tesla's Musk and Apple's Cook, were also allotted time for a separate, private meeting. In addition, Trump announced that Musk would be on the administration’s Strategic and Policy Team, a group of business leaders that “will be called upon to meet with the president frequently to share their specific experience and knowledge as the president implements his economic agenda.”
Above: Elon Musk at Trump's tech industry summit (Image: Electrek)
And during Tesla's Gigafactory meeting with investors last week, Musk reportedly said that: "The President-elect has a strong emphasis on US manufacturing and so do we. We are building the biggest factory in the world right here, creating US jobs… I think we may see some surprising things from the next administration. We don’t think they will be negative on fossil fuels… but they may also be positive on renewables." A day after the Gigafactory meeting, Musk (again) made another visit to Trump Tower to meet with top advisors. Although the meeting was kept under wraps, Bloomberg provided some background...
Above: Musk visits Trump Tower again last week (Source: Bloomberg)
Those on Wall Street have taken notice. CNBC has called Tesla a Trump stock. Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote, "To the extent that the creation of high-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States is a priority of the incoming administration, we believe Mr. Musk might have some interests that could be very much in alignment with those of President-elect Trump." Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry wrote, "that Tesla CEO Elon Musk will be a 'very close confidant' to President-elect Donald Trump and both of them together will play a critical role to make 'USA manufacturing sexy again.'”
Above: Job creation at Tesla's Gigafactory (Source: Bloomberg)
However, little is known about what's been discussed thus far between Trump and Musk. One tidbit was just revealed in New York Magazine. Trump's son-in-law and top advisor, Jared Kushner was interviewed and it was reported that Kushner predicted that Trump would, "invest in infrastructure, which he said could mean not only roads and bridges but high-speed internet and driverless cars. He said Trump had asked Elon Musk why the aerospace industry couldn’t make planes that fly faster, like the Concorde used to, and Musk replied that most CEOs preferred incremental improvements to moon-shot risks. 'Trump will not be afraid to fail,' he said."
Above: Tesla's focus on U.S. manufacturing jobs could align with Trump's goals (Source: Market Realist)
Okay... so maybe Trump's conversations with Musk are surrounding SpaceX or the Hyperloop. Or maybe they have something to do with Musk's intention to build tunnels. Or maybe, as Market Realist notes: "Trump’s administration will likely favor companies like Tesla... improving the US job market [which] is one of Trump’s key agendas" and Tesla is creating thousands of US jobs. Or, perhaps it's something more personal. After all, the Washington Post reported that Trump has a collection of cars, and "Rounding out the fleet are two made in the USA: a Cadillac Escalade and a Tesla." So maybe... like the rest of us, he just fell in love with his Tesla.
Above: A Tesla Model S "fueled" by solar (Image: MIT Technology Review)
Regardless, we hope that Elon Musk has an impact changing Trump's wrongheaded views on climate change. Yesterday, Mashable reported: "A total of 640 businesses and investors sent a letter to President-elect Trump and Congress on Tuesday, strongly urging continued investment in the clean energy sector." Nancy Pfund, an early investor in Tesla and SolarCity, said the incoming administration should welcome the job creation by businesses that are pouring money into clean technologies. “This should be music to Trump’s ears,” she said, noting Tesla's recent job growth in California and Nevada.