(AP/KRON) – Tesla CEO Elon Musk threatened Saturday to pull the company’s factory and headquarters out of California in an escalating spat with local officials who have stopped the company from reopening its electric vehicle factory.
On Twitter, Musk also threatened to sue over Alameda County Health Department coronavirus restrictions that have stopped Tesla from restarting production its factory in Fremont south of San Francisco.
“Frankly, this is the final straw,” he tweeted. “Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.”
He wrote that whether the company keeps any manufacturing in Fremont depends on how Tesla is treated in the future.
The county released a statement on Saturday afternoon:
The Alameda County Health Care Services Agency and the Public Health Department have been communicating directly and working closely with the Tesla team on the ground in Fremont. This has been a collaborative, good faith effort to develop and implement a safety plan that allows for reopening while protecting the health and well-being of the thousands of employees who travel to and from work at Tesla’s factory.
The team at Tesla has been responsive to our guidance and recommendations, and we look forward to coming to an agreement on an appropriate safety plan very soon.
We greatly value and support the important role of small and large businesses to our local economy and our communities. We appreciate that our residents and businesses have made tremendous sacrifices and that together we have been able to save lives and protect community health in our region. We need to continue to work together so those sacrifices don’t go to waste and that we maintain our gains. It is our collective responsibility to move through the phases of reopening and loosening the restrictions of the Shelter-in-Place Order in the safest way possible, guided by data and science.
We do not have any further comment and will not be taking any requests for interviews.
Musk has been ranting about the stay-home order since the company’s April 29 first-quarter earnings were released, calling the restrictions fascist and urging governments to stop taking people’s freedom.
An order in the six-county San Francisco Bay Area forced Tesla to close the Fremont plant starting March 23 to help prevent the virus’ spread, and it was extended until the end of May. Public health experts say the orders have reduced the number of new coronavirus cases nationwide. California Gov. Gavin Newsom allowed the Bay Area counties to continue restrictions while easing them in other areas of the state,
Emails seeking comments Saturday from Alameda County’s public health officer and Newsom have not been returned.
The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. But it has killed more than 77,000 people in the U.S., with the death toll rising.
Musk’s tweets come as competing automakers are starting to reopen factories in the U.S. Toyota will restart production on Monday, while General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler all plan to restart their plants gradually on May 18. Tesla is the only automaker with a factory in California.
Musk’s threats came after a series of bizarre tweets earlier this month including one that said Tesla’s stock price was too high. Musk also posted parts of the U.S. national anthem and wrote that he would sell his houses and other possessions.
Fremont Mayor Lily Mei issued the following statement on Saturday:
“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. We know many essential businesses have proven they can successfully operate using strict safety and social distancing practices. I strongly believe these same practices could be possible for other manufacturing businesses, especially those that are so critical to our employment base. The City encourages the County to engage with our local businesses to come up with acceptable guidelines for re-opening our local economy. As we have done for over a decade, the City is prepared to support Tesla as soon as they are able to resume automobile manufacturing operations and are committed to a thoughtful, balanced approach to this effort that remains safe for our Fremont community.”
Palo Alto Mayor Adrian Fine responded to Musk via Twitter after hearing the news.
Mayor Fine, saddened by Musk’s supposed decision, said he is willing to help out in any way he can.
“I would be really sad and disappointed if Tesla left City of Palo Alto, and stand ready to help,” he wrote.
Musk responded, simply writing: “Much appreciated, Mayor Fine!”
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