Tesla Sues County; Musk Promises to Pick up Toys, Go Home
California announced late last week that it will allow the cautious reopening of manufacturing operations across the state, but Alameda County resisted, claiming it will keep non-essential businesses shuttered until the end of the month.
Guess which county Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant is located in.
Now guess Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s reaction to the country’s announcement. If you speculated that Tesla might sue Alameda Country, with Musk launching an online tirade in which he promises to move Tesla HQ and all future products out of the state, you’d be right.
“Tesla is filing a lawsuit against Alameda County immediately,” Musk tweeted Saturday, following Alameda County’s announcement of a June 1st reopening. “The unelected & ignorant ‘Interim Health Officer’ of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!”
This, after Musk hailed California Governor Gavin Newson’s announcement. After wrangling with county officials, Tesla shut down its operations after other mainstream automakers had already gone dark, with Musk later garnering headlines for his rants about the coronavirus and what he perceived as attacks on civil liberties taken by various levels of government.
San Joaquin County, right next door to Alameda, has been sensible & reasonable, whereas Alameda has been irrational & detached from reality. Our castings foundry and other faculties in San Joaquin have been working 24/7 this entire time with no ill effects. Same with Giga Nevada.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2020
Tesla did file a lawsuit against Alameda County in a San Francisco federal court Saturday, with the plaintiff calling the county’s move a “power grab” that was in violation of federal and state constitutions and in defiance of its governor.
Musk then promised to get the hell out of California.
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
Before the coronavirus pandemic reached these shores in force, Musk began a search for a second vehicle manufacturing site, with Texas being an early possibility. Musk later announced he as looking for a location in the central United States. Cities like Joplin, Missouri moved quickly to woo the CEO and his promised jobs.
While Tesla’s Fremont site houses the Model S, X, 3, and Y operations, its capacity is maxed out. Future models like the Cybertruck, Semi Truck, and perhaps the delayed Roadster will need to find a new home. Nevada currently handles Tesla’s battery operations.
Musk’s tweets earned backlash from the equally online political sphere, with California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales (D) stating “Fuck Elon Musk” in a tweet of her own. Other officials tempered their language.
As reported by The Guardian, Alameda County’s health department issued a statement claiming, “We look forward to coming to an agreement on an appropriate safety plan very soon.”
“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,” it added.
Not everyone is on the anti-Musk bandwagon, with Fremont mayor Lily Mei expressing concern for the area’s economy. “We know many essential businesses have proven they can successfully operate using strict safety and social distancing practices,” she said in a statement.
Speaking to The New York Times, Alameda County’s supervisor for Fremont, Scott Haggerty, said Musk is being impatient.
“We were working on a lot of policies and procedures to help operate that plant and quite frankly, I think Tesla did a pretty good job, and that’s why I had it to the point where on May 18, Tesla would have opened,” Haggerty said. “I know Elon knew that. But he wanted it this week.”
The supervisor said he was in the process of showing county officials that Tesla had sufficient health protocol ready to go when he was threatened with a lawsuit on Thursday.
“It was only a threat, and as an elected official I get threatened all the time,” Haggerty said, adding, “It does at that point slow down conversations between my contact at the plant and myself.”
Tesla soon detailed its position and outlined its health preparations (and recent interactions with the county) in a lengthy blog post.