Defying State Tesla Resumes Production: CEO Musk Says “Arrest Me”

Another day, another Tesla drama. It was only yesterday that Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted he would move Tesla’s headquarters to either Texas or Nevada. This after Alameda County, where the Tesla factory is located, refused to allow Tesla to resume production after the lockdown in March over coronavirus fears. Today, defying the same Alameda County directive he ordered everyone back to the Tesla factory to resume production. He tweeted, “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Tesla was rounding up its production staff to reopen the factory last Friday

Brand new Tesla motors electric cars, including the Tesla Model 3 on a car carrier truck awaiting delivery near the company’s headquarters and factory in the Silicon Valley, Fremont, California. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Tesla was rounding up its production staff to reopen the factory last Friday. But Alameda County officials said, “No!” Though California Governor Gavin Newsom gave the go-ahead to reopen, the county level still retained the final approval. 

Plans were in the works with Alameda and Tesla to reopen on May 18 which is also when the Detroit Three will also reopen. But Musk said no; he wanted the plant open May 8. When that date passed he filed an injunction against Alameda on May 9. 

Now it appears that Musk opened the plant on the 8th anyway. Workers confirmed that “around 200 Model Y and Model 3 vehicles were produced.” Truck haulers were seen leaving the Fremont, California, plant with full loads of cars. The parking lot was mostly filled Friday. Yeah, those are all good indications the plant was open for business.

Some workers have called local TV stations to complain

Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures during the Tesla China-made Model 3 Delivery Ceremony in Shanghai. – Tesla CEO Elon Musk presented the first batch of made-in-China cars to ordinary buyers on January 7, 2020 in a milestone for the company’s new Shanghai “giga-factory”, but which comes as sales decelerate in the world’s largest electric-vehicle market. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Tesla says it has strict safety guidelines in place learned from its Shanghai assembly plant. But some workers have called local TV stations to complain. They say they’ll lose their benefits if they don’t show up. But they also fear that safety is lax at the plant. So it’s all coming down to safety versus cranking out cars. 

One of the problems for Tesla is that while other manufacturers have quietly abided by the lockdown mandates Musk has fought them at almost every step. So the precedent; not only for the Detroit Three but foreign manufacturers with plants here, has been to follow the rules. It paints a bad picture for Tesla in many respects.

If there is a resurgence of the virus after the restrictions have been eased can the manufacturers be held liable? Are Tesla and Musk getting set up for massive lawsuits should workers contract the coronavirus virus? If so it could cost Tesla far more than it is giving up by keeping closed. 

States have had to become the de facto government virus oversight

Tesla holding lot | Getty

Because of the lack of Federal guidance, the states have had to become the de facto government oversight, and different states are handling the lockdowns in different ways. Especially densely populated states have taken more drastic approaches to “flattening the curve” of coronavirus spread. Now it is becoming tougher to keep lockdowns going. 

California has seen rebuffs to California Governor Gavin Newson’s orders with crowds at beaches and hikers not abiding by “social distancing” rules. Some restaurants have reopened in defiance of Newsom’s orders. So this is the atmosphere surrounding Tesla’s reopening. 

FREMONT, CA – JULY 26: Robotics arms install the front seats to the Tesla Model 3 at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, on Thursday, July 26, 2018. (Photo by Mason Trinca for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

This pandemic has done no one any good. But reducing regulations aimed at keeping people from contracting the virus could spark a second wave of infections. That would bring the obvious unwanted illness and death but would also put us back into lockdown until maybe 2021. That would be far worse than letting some of the death and illness numbers drop before slowly opening up the world.