With the US COVID-19 death toll racing to 100,000, many US states are rushing to re-open the economy well before the pandemic has been brought fully under control.
California is not one of them, and it seems this is enraging billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who just threatened to move his operation outside the state due to not being allowed to re-open his Fremont factory.
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 dependen on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2020
Musk has been pushing to re-open the factory yesterday after California Gov. Gavin Newsom issues guidance on Thursday saying manufacturers can re-open, subject to county officials agreeing with the plans.
Unfortunately for Musk Alameda County, along with several other Bay Area counties and cities, extended the stay-at-home orders through the end of May. Musk was warned that reopening the factory would place him outside compliance with the order.
In the tweet above Musk said Tesla would launch a lawsuit against Alameda County, and also urged shareholders to do the same. He later also said he would move his headquarters and future operations out of state, and may wind down manufacturing at Fremont “dependen (sic) on how Tesla is treated in the future.”
Musk, of course, has a right to be concerned about the impact of the shutdown on his company, but so does every other company and worker in the USA. Unlike them, however, Musk has a bully pulpit and is not afraid to use it. His behaviour is rapidly losing the respect of the people, largely Californians, who kept his company alive during the hard times, and his abhorrent disregard of the lives of his employees and their families confirms the worst rumours that have dogged him and the Fremont facility over the years.
Frankly, if this is the real Elon Musk, the world’s 5th largest economy is probably better rid of him.