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The Stage Is Set For Another Clash Between Tesla And The Government

Illustration for article titled The Stage Is Set For Another Clash Between Tesla And The Government
Photo: Tesla

Tesla, which is currently not producing any cars anywhere on Earth, badly wants to change that, with plans to reopen its Fremont, California, factory today. The problem, of course, is that it still may not be safe to do so, despite what Tesla CEO Elon Musk thinks.

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Tesla had reopened its Shanghai plant after the coronavirus pandemic there, but was abruptly forced to close it earlier this week because of what one report said were parts shortages, in addition to a broken manufacturing piece. But that report also said that the Shanghai factory could be back as soon as tomorrow.

A bit thornier is what’s happening in Fremont. Musk had told employees last night in an email that the plant would reopen today, after California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that manufacturing sites would be allowed to reopen. The only problem is that Newsom also said that local rule would supersede his, meaning if Alameda County, where the Fremont plant is, wants to keep things closed it’ll be allowed to do that.

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A county spokeswoman was unequivocal about the matter on Friday, via Reuters:

A spokeswoman for the Alameda County Public Health Department in a statement referred to the county’s coronavirus lockdown order that only permits essential businesses to reopen.

“Tesla has been informed that they do not meet those criteria and must not reopen,” the spokeswoman said.

This all, of course, sets the stage for yet another standoff between Tesla and local health officials, reminiscent of the one in March in which Tesla refused to shut down its Fremont factory, before ultimately folding and doing just that. I’m guessing that ultimately this will turn out much the same way, with Tesla eventually bowing to Alameda County government, but probably not without some kicking and screaming first. None of this drama is ever necessary but, at this point, with this company, almost feels requisite, a replacement for all that advertising it says it doesn’t do.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

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Is it time for a countdown to Tesla leaving California for the deep south?