Now the lawyers are involved and the stakes have been raised.
Although the governor of California stated late last week that manufacturers in the state would be allowed to reopen, Tesla appears to be one of the exceptions. Why? Because the EV automaker's Fremont factory, home to the Tesla Model S, Model X, and high in-demand Tesla Model 3, is located in Alameda County where the local health department is keeping the coronavirus pandemic lockdown order in effect until the end of this May. Only essential businesses can remain open and Tesla is not considered one of them.
Tesla filed a lawsuit against the county on Saturday in an effort to reopen Fremont immediately, which has been closed since March. A county official claims its health department has held several discussions with the automaker and recommended it wait at least another week in order for infection rates to continue to be monitored before reopening, but Musk is proving to be very impatient.
The outspoken CEO took to Twitter on Saturday and vented his frustrations - and also made a serious threat. "Tesla is filing a lawsuit against Alameda County immediately," Musk wrote. "The unelected & ignorant 'Interim Health Officer' of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!"
While that statement may not convince county officials to change their mind, the next one might.
"Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA."
For its part, Tesla provided health officials and published on its website a 38-page detailed plan explaining all procedures and precautions that will be taken in order to reopen.
"Our restart plan is the result of months of careful planning and preparation. It was modeled after the comprehensive return to work plan we established at our Shanghai Gigafactory, which has seen smooth and healthy operations for the last three months," Tesla said. "The County's position left us no choice but to take legal action to ensure that Tesla and its employees can get back to work."
Musk has previously been very vocal in criticizing the lockdown orders and his latest behavior and choice of words should come as no surprise. But by threatening to shut down Fremont, he's also threatening to take away people's jobs unless he gets his way.