Elon Musk dares authorities as factory reopens in pandemic

Published: 12 May 2020

► Elon Musk: latest news
► ‘Coronavirus panic is dumb’
► Stock price comments and more 

Eccentric Tesla head, Elon Musk, is no stranger to sticking his oar into various world issues, sending out tweets that get him into hot water or simply doing rather odd things. 

So, while it’s hard to keep track of, here’s the latest news on one of the car industry’s most vocal and unconventional figures.

Musk and coronavirus

Musk announced on Twitter on 9 May that he would sue Alameda County, California in an effort to restart Tesla’s Fremont factory. The county had decided to extend its stay-at-home order to fight the virus, with Musk reacting by calling the interim health officer of the county ‘unelected and ignorant’. He also added that the ongoing lockdown was ‘the final straw’ for Tesla in California, tweeting ‘Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.’

Since then, Elon tweeted on Monday 11 May that production is restarting at the Fremond plant (below), defying Alameda County’s current lockdown enforcements. ‘I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it is only me.’

tesla fremont factory

This spat follows on from his comments mid-March 2020. As countries began lockdowns to stem the tide of the coronavirus, he tweeted that that the panic around the virus is ‘dumb’, despite governments all around the world taking drastic action to try and smooth out the infection rate from the influenza-like illness.

He told staff that they were more likely to die in a car crash than from the virus and, according to US reports, suggested that the deaths from the virus are occurring in groups that are already susceptible to lung diseases.

‘As a basis for comparison, the risk of death from C19 is *vastly* less than the risk of death from driving your car home,’ Musk, whose Teslas are equipped with what the company calls a ‘bioweapon defence mode’ – essentially an air conditioning system with sophisticated air filters. ‘There are about 36 thousand automotive deaths per deaths [sic], as compared to 36 so far this year for C19.’ He also urged employees to take care of themselves and to stay home if they felt ill.

That attitude quickly changed when Tesla announced it would help to create ventilators for medical services to use.

Tesla’s share price

‘Tesla stock price too high imo’. This single tweet managed to knock off around $14bn of Tesla’s value from the very thumbs of its illustrious leader, including around $3bn off his own stake. When the Wall Street Journal got in touch with Musk asking about if he was joking about said tweet, he simply said ‘no.’

Tesla Model Y

That followed on from a tweet in 2018 where Musk hinted about Tesla going public on the New York Stock Exchange. Regulators fined the company $20m, and Musk has had to have posts with potentially sensitive information about the brand screened by lawyers before publishing.

Video calling in Tesla cars

All of the brand’s cars have massive touchscreens that already include plenty of services such as web browsing, music via Spotify and even a series of games and gimmicks that we’ve already tested.

In the Model 3, a driver-facing camera already exists, fixed within the housing of the rear view mirror. Musk, once again via the medium of Twitter, responded to a tweet asking about it by saying it was ‘definitely a future feature.’

Tesla Model 3 static

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