Daily US Times: The love affair between California, Elon Musk and Tesla has been phenomenal. Musk’s electric car company is California’s dream of a greener economy made real. But that love affair started to get sour.
Tesla Inc. grew up from scrappy Silicon Valley startup to the world’s second-most-valuable automaker. Politicians point to Elon Musks Los Angeles rocket company, SpaceX — poised to carry astronauts to the International Space Station on Wednesday — as an emblem of Golden State ingenuity.
Seeking a fertile market for his pickup truck and an economical place to build it, Musk now is staging a show of pique. He has slammed California’s shutdown measures to contain coronavirus as “fascist” and reopened his factory against local government orders. He is considering Texas for a factory that would plant Tesla’s flag in a red state where trucks reign supreme and appeal to a new swath of customers: conservatives.
Subodh Bhat, a marketing professor at San Francisco State University, said: “Elon raising this issue and being seen as anti-California will resonate a lot with people on the right. He’s always been a provocateur.”
California has been a nurturing partner for the 48-year old entrepreneur. Its bold climate goals and incentives juiced the market for Tesla’s SUV’s and sleek sedans, with purchasers receiving $266.8 million in state rebates over the years.
According to IHS Markit, more than 40% of the company’s new U.S. vehicle registrations in 2019 were in California.
A full decade since Tesla’s IPO, consumers who buy Model 3 or Model Y can still apply for a $2,000 rebate from the state.
Yet when Alameda County shutdown orders stopped production at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, Musk defied local health officials by closing late and reopening early.
Yet when Alameda County shutdown orders stopped production at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, the founder of Tesla defied local health officials by closing the factory late and reopening early.
He briefly sued the county and threatened to move his company’s Palo Alto headquarters to Texas or Nevada.
After county officials said the Tesla wasn’t authorized to reopen the plant in 9 May, he tweeted “This is the final straw”.
“If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future.”
Editorial writers and columnists wished him good riddance, some legislators told him to get lost (in less-printable words) and a state panel denied SpaceX $656,000 for job training.
Elon Musk and Tesla declined to comment.
Dan Schnur, who teaches political communications at the University of Southern California and the University of California at Berkeley, said: “Even if the move was years in the future, just the announcement that Tesla was leaving would be a huge black eye for California.”
Tesla drew several states into a competition in 2014 to win its massive battery plant, dubbed the Gigafactory. This time, the prize is a plant to build the angular Cybertruck pickup. Oklahoma and Florida have made pitches – Tulsa’s “Golden Driller,” a 75-foot statue of an oil worker, was transformed into the image of Musk with a Tesla logo.