Tesla CE, Elon Musk on Saturday has threatened to move the California headquarters of the company to Nevada or Texas “immediately.” He made this public in a message on his personal Twitter account.
Via the same communication channel, Musk threatened to jettison the company’s auto assembly plant located in Fremont, California, depending “on how Tesla is treated in the future.” In another tweet, he said he would press charges against the county authorities.
He was livid by Alameda County’s directive for Tesla to shut down its operations until county public health authorities eased the lockdown. According to the county, the stay-at-home orders addressing the COVID-19 pandemic run through May 31, although that date could change depending on infection data.
In defiance of the court order, the Tesla boss had informed staff to prepare for a Friday afternoon factory reopening. However, the county issued a statement directed specifically at Tesla Shortly after 1 p.m. Friday. The statement read that the company “must not reopen” the plant.
Since March 23, the plant had been forced to shut down. However, the Shutdowns have caused financial turmoil at Tesla and other companies as public health authorities seek to balance the protection of people from spread of the virus with the deleterious economic effects of business closure.
In a bid to express his thoughts, Musk posted a series of tweets with followers of Tesla Saturday morning, in which he termed the county action as “the final straw.”
This is not the first time Musk has tangled with county officials. Recently, a joint six-county San Francisco Bay Area stay at home order March 16, including Alameda, not until Fremont police intervened, Musk kept the plant open for nearly another week.
Musk, in a tweet Saturday morning said that the “unelected & ignorant ‘Interim Health Officer’ of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!” The essence of that tweet apparently was targeted at the interim head of the Alameda County Public Health Department, Erica Pan, a physician with decades of experience in pandemic diseases.
Governor of California, Gavin Newsom has eased statewide directives that had restricted manufacturing activities, however individual counties can put stricter measures in place to safe guard its residents. The Bay Area has one of the strictest orders in California state.
The staff strength of Tesla in California is about 20,000, that makes up about half at its Fremont factory. The company is headquartered in Palo Alto, close to Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley. It would be entirely tasking to Move the entire headquarters with its executives and software programmers, although Musk himself could set up a new headquarters with a skeleton crew in a short period of time.
In a bid to expand and support existing business operations, Musk has already been planning new factories to supplement Fremont. He however, although hasn’t identified where the funding to build them will come from. In addition to a China plant, Musk plans to establish an auto assembly plant in Germany. He has also indicated that a new plant will be built in Texas, perhaps to build an electric pickup truck. Located in Nevada, just outside Reno, is the company’s major battery factory.
A business migration has been in the works from California to Texas for years, however, its the reason to revolve around taxes, labor costs and housing prices rather than disputes over public health.
According to Musk’s Saturday tweets, the company’s experience to put in place safety measures in Shanghai during the coronavirus outbreak in China means it knows how to protect the plant in Fremont as well.
“Tesla knows far more about what needs to be done to be safe through our Tesla China factory experience than an (unelected) interim junior officer in Alameda County,” tweeted the CE.
As the virus began spreading through out the U.S., Musk tweeted on March 6 that “The coronavirus panic is dumb.” Discussing with analysts in a conference call on April 29, Musk termed the stay-at-home orders as “fascist.”