The saga continues.
Despite ongoing negotiations between Tesla and Fremont county health officials in California regarding a factory production restart date later this month, CEO Elon Musk has ultimately decided to defy the law. The Associated Press reports Musk ordered the Fremont plant to restart production yesterday (Monday) without official approval. Alameda County officials previously deemed the factory, which has been shut down since March 23 and employs 10,000 people, to be a nonessential business that can't operate under virus restrictions.
However, the state of California has given automakers permission to resume operations. Alameda County, however, overrode that directive and this is where Musk takes issue, which he made very clear in a recent tweet. In fact, he's literally daring county officials, announcing he will be on the assembly line working alongside employees and that if the police come to arrest anyone, it should be him.
Mind you, the maximum $1,000 a day fine for operating against health orders is not something Musk cares about. He could also probably care less about the potential 90 days in jail. If county officials send in the authorities to cuff him, it would simply generate more free publicity for Tesla. The local sheriff's department gave no indication it was prepared to enforce the shutdown order, and the Fremont police said they would only act if the county health officer gave the order.
Throughout the day on Monday, semi-trucks could be seen driving out of the factory with newly built units of the Tesla Model 3 and other models.
For its part, the county reminded Tesla it was operating in violation of public health orders and requested it submit a reopen plan by the end of the day yesterday. Well, too late. Only a few days ago, Tesla and county officials were negotiating a May 18 restart date, but Musk evidently had enough talking. He threatened to move the Fremont factory out of state to either Texas or Nevada, as well as Tesla headquarters.
He also sued the county last Saturday claiming it can't issue more restrictive orders over Governor Gavin Newsom's. Moving operations out of California would be an expensive and timely thing to do that, ironically, would cost vital production time.
So don't expect Fremont to close but Musk is clearly not afraid to raise the stakes and push things to their limit in order to get his way.