Coronavirus: Elon Musk threatens to pull Tesla production from California after lockdown row

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
WASHINGTON DC, USA - MARCH 9: Elon Musk, Founder and Chief Engineer of SpaceX, speaks during the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, DC, United States on March 9, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Elon Musk, Founder and Chief Engineer of SpaceX, speaks during the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, DC. Photo: Getty

Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk has threatened to pull the company’s electric car factory from the US state of California after the state’s local officials stopped the company from reopening due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

Musk said on Twitter that Tesla is “filing a lawsuit against Alameda County immediately” as he said coronavirus restrictions that have stopped Tesla from restarting production at its factory in Fremont.

He also said the company would move future factories to Texas or Nevada.

He said the lockdown was an infringement on “constitutional freedoms.”

Musk has taken issue with lockdown measures since the company reported its first quarter results on 29 April. He called the restrictions “fascist” and urged governments to stop taking people’s freedom.

On 8 May, the Alameda County Public Health Department said it told Tesla that it did not meet conditions for a business to reopen.

“The Bay Area started with a higher disease burden than the rest of the state, which may mean tighter restrictions than the rest of the state for some time,” the department said.

READ MORE: Tesla billionaire Elon Musk set for $720m pay day

The facility is Tesla’s only US-based vehicle assembly plant, but Musk has previously expressed plans to open another in Texas.

Tesla builds more than 415,000 cars a year at the Fremont plant and moving the entire production facility would be a massive undertaking. The closure of the factory is costing the company revenue, after an impressive run in 2020.

The car company’s stock has rallied over 80% since the turn of the year. Tesla is now the world’s second most valuable automaker, behind only Toyota.

Chart: Yahoo Finance
Chart: Yahoo Finance

Musk tweeted on Friday that Tesla’s share price was “too high,” briefly wiping 10% of the stock’s value.

Musk’s tweets come as competing car makers begin to reopen factories in the US. 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 car maker with a factory in California.

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