Tesla CEO Elon Musk is threatening to take his car manufacturing headquarters out of California amid the coronavirus pandemic. After Alameda county stopped the company from opening its factory in Fremont, California last week, the car company filed a lawsuit against county officials.
Criticism against Musk has increased in recent months amid shelter in place ordinances around the country. While much of California was ordered not to go to work and to stay out of the public as much as possible, Musk took to Twitter to complain that the ordinances were out of line, posting conspiracy theories about the coronavirus outbreak and encouraging the public to rally against the U.S. Government by protesting stay at home orders.
“Tesla is 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!” wrote Musk on Twitter on May 9th. “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,” he continued.
Earlier in the month a letter sent by Musk to factory employees claimed that the factory would re-open under increased social distancing measures, but told employees that they were not obligated to return if they didn’t feel safe. Many, however, felt that the factory should not open at all until California’s governor feels that it’s safe enough to do so.
Many have pointed out that Tesla is among the only car factory in the United States to remain closed this late into the crisis. “F*ck Elon Musk” wrote California assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez on Twitter following the news that Tesla would file a lawsuit against Alameda county over being forced to remain closed.
“California has highly subsidized a company that has always disregarded worker safety & well-being, has engaged in union busting & bullies public servants. I probably could’ve expressed my frustration in a less aggressive way. Of course, no one would’ve cared if I tweeted that,” Gonzalez wrote on the social media website. “And, the deaths from Covid-19 in California are disproportionately Latino. Our communities have been the hardest hit. By far. Maybe that’s why we take the public health officials’ warning and directions so seriously,” she continued on Twitter.
As car manufacturers in the midwest are allowed to re-open, California’s extended shelter in place ordinances have forced Tesla to remain closed. However, Musk is willing to face arrest in order to re-open. Tesla, which opened its first factories in China late last year, has been slowly migrating its manufacturing out of California for quite some time now.
As one of Silicon Valley’s more notable CEO’s, Musk is one of the few tech leaders criticizing the coronavirus response in recent weeks. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces greater cutbacks to company-related public gatherings, eyes turn toward Musk when it comes to public safety.