Joe Biden had a big event today at the White House to announce that his administration would be tightening fuel economy regulations and to talk EVs, alongside leaders from the Big Three. Biden also drove a Jeep. It seemed like a nice time. Tesla, conspicuously, was not there, and wasn’t even invited.
This did not go unnoticed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who spent part of the day joking about it.
And when I had heard this morning that Tesla was not invited, I assumed that was because Tesla’s whole deal is messy and weird and why would the White House want any part of that. Except that wasn’t it, either. The reason is pretty simple: Tesla’s factories are non-union, while the Big Three’s aren’t.
Tesla historically has been hostile toward unionization at its California plant, and it remains a non-union shop, despite an effort by the UAW to organize that, honestly, the UAW should really revisit. For now, though, the Big Three remain the only unionized automakers in America, and Tesla is rightfully grouped in with the non-union foreign automakers that build cars here, which is to say all of them.
If Elon wants to change that (he doesn’t), he knows how. In the meantime, I guess that means no White House visits, and no fun photo ops with Biden driving a Tesla around the White House lawn. Here Biden is Thursday with a Jeep Wrangler Limited Rubicon 4xE:
A little fast there, Joe.
Biden also took a moment Thursday to tell GM CEO Mary Barra that he was calling first dibs on an all-electric Corvette, so I guess that is happening. “I have a commitment from Mary when they make the first electric Corvette, I get to be the first person to drive it,” Biden said.
Could’ve been you, Tesla.