Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has said his company will defy orders to keep its factories shut, after local county officials overrode the state’s decision to restart manufacturing in the state of California.
Musk is challenging the call from health officials in Alameda County, where its Fremont production factory is based, employing around 20,000 workers in the Bay-area.
According to reports, Tesla was given the go-ahead from the state of California, however, this decision was overruled by decision-makers in Alameda County who said the company was not able to operate without a risk assessment and county-approved plan for the reopening of the facility.
Musk tweeted that his company was “filing a lawsuit against Alameda County immediately. The unelected & ignorant ‘interim health officer’ of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!”
Musk continued to explain that “frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we ever retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA,” he said.
County officials have said in a statement that they “hope Tesla will likewise comply without further enforcement measures,” adding that they anticipate a proposal from Tesla, but the timeframe is unknown.
In response, Elon Musk has tweeted that he wasn’t “messing around”, and that the “absurd & medically irrational behaviour in violation of constitutional liberties, moreover by *unelected* county officials with no accountability, needs to stop,” in a specific reference to Alameda county officials.
“If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,” Musk wrote. Tesla has pointed out that in the process of overwriting the Governor's orders to reopen manufacturing plants, the county of Alameda was acting in violation of California’s constitution.
“Yes, California approved, but an unelected county official illegally overrode. Also, all other auto companies in the US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up,” Musk tweeted.
Just a few hours ago, Musk added to his twitter postings that the company was “restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else.”
Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities told Bloomberg that “part of it is just frustration from the view of Musk and Tesla, given they are basically grounded around Fremont, which is the heart and lungs of their business.” Ives said that Elon Musk was partaking in “a game of poker to put more pressure on the county to open up.”
Tesla said in a blog post that its reopening plan comes as “the result of months of careful planning and preparation,” and that “Tesla is not an outlier, nor are we going against the grain,” in reference to opening up its production capacity.
Lily Mei, the mayor of Fremont has said that she’s concerned about the monetary impact of Tesla not resuming their operations, encouraging the county officials to communicate with local businesses and establish a set of guidelines to reopen their doors.
“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… The team at Tesla have been responsive to our guidance and recommendations, and we look forward to coming to an agreement on an appropriate safety plan very soon,” she said.
California’s governor, Gavin Newsom said yesterday that after speaking with Mr Musk, he was buoyed to extend the reopening of California’s manufacturing across the state. “I have not only known that company but I have known its founder for many, many years,” he said. “I have great reverence for their technology, for their innovative spirit, for their leadership,” he concluded.
Just last week, Musk was threatening to sue California county and relocate its production facilities to another state. Tesla filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco stating that the current health orders in place violated due process, and “puts businesses deemed critical to the nation’s well-being by the federal and state governments between a rock and a hard place,” it said.