Tesla has won its battle to reopen its Fremont electric car factory, putting an end to a week of threats and lawsuits from CEO and co-founder Elon Musk .
In a tweet posted on Wednesday (US time), the Alameda County public health department confirmed that it had received a site-specific Covid-19 prevention plan from Tesla for the Fremont factory, and that as long as Covid-19 infections stayed within predefined limits, a number of businesses including Tesla would be allowed to reopen.
“Alameda County Update on Tesla, May 12: We received Tesla’s site-specific Fremont COVID-19 Prevention and Control Plan yesterday as anticipated. A site-specific plan is a part of the Governor’s guidance for reopening manufacturing,” the public health unit wrote.
“Agreed upon health and safety measures are in place for the safety of their workers as they prepare for full production. Next Monday, May 18th, marks two weeks following the May 4th Order loosening restrictions. Provided that the data show progress with our COVID-19 indicators during this two week period, we would allow additional approved activities for local businesses, including Tesla, as previously planned.”
during this two week period, we would allow additional approved activities for local businesses, including Tesla, as previously planned. The Health Officer Order referenced and indicators are available here https://t.co/TzKAqnfJFs @AlamedaCounty @ACSOSheriffs
— Alameda County Public Health Department (@Dare2BWell) May 13, 2020
Tesla’s lawsuit, which will now presumably be withdrawn, centred around claims that threats of fines and jail by the Alameda County if businesses reopened despite the governor of the state of California announcing that certain businesses would be allowed to reopen on May 8.
Of course, it turned out that Tesla has already begun making the Model 3 and Model Y at Fremont again anyway, with Musk daring the county to arrest him in a bold tweet that drew a wide range of reactions from the Twitterverse.
It’s been a tumultuous few months for car makers in general, in an industry that has seen a downturn in petrol and diesel sales in many markets including Australia which has felt a two-year slump. Naturally, the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing industry and economic shutdown have not helped.
Tesla, however, was one of the few (if any) car makers that posted a profit (albeit a modest $US16 million) for the first quarter of 2020, the first such profit in what is normally an unprofitable quarter.
The March Covid-19 shutdown also meant that Tesla was left with 14,000 vehicles in its inventory, which will have given it a head start on second quarter deliveries, although this is in effect just a subtraction from the previous quarter.
Now six weeks into the second quarter of 2020, Musk is champing at the bit to get Tesla making and delivering electric cars again. Despite the car maker’s dip in deliveries (and therefore sales) in the first quarter, it did not change guidance at the company’s first quarter earnings call that it expected to “comfortably exceed” production of 500,000 units in 2020.
Tesla has been making Model 3s again at its Shanghai Gigafactory since March after a 10-day government imposed closure. According to a 10-Q filing to the SEC regarding the company’s Q1 2020 earnings, Tesla has production capacity at Shanghai for some 200,000 units a year, which it expects will double once its Model Y expansion is completed, by 2021.
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Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model Y and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.