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Tesla might still move out of California, Elon Musk warns

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is again threatening to potentially move the automaker out of California after the COVID-19 response.

Back in May, when Tesla was fighting the local authorities in California in order to reopen its Fremont factory, Musk said that he would “immediately” be moving Tesla’s headquarters out of California:

Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.

It ended up being an empty threat as the automaker was authorized to repopen its factory a week later and Tesla’s headquarters remain in Palo Alto, California.

However, now three months later, the CEO again brought up the possibility of moving Tesla’s headquarters.

He said in an interview on the Automotive News podcast this week:

There’s no question that our headquarters will remain in California for the short term. Long term, we’ll have to wait and see.

The CEO didn’t specify what we are waiting for, but in his previous threat, Musk said that Tesla’s prospects of keeping manufacturing in California will be “dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future.”

The new threat comes after Tesla made a deal with Austin to bring its next factory to Texas.

Electrek reported in May that Tesla had chosen Austin as its next location for a factory in the US, but the automaker leaked that Tulsa, Oklahoma, was still in the running until confirming the deal in Texas last month.

Now Musk added some more color about the decision to go with Austin:

 When talking to key members of the team that would need to move to Austin from California in order to get the factory going, Austin was their top pick. I guess a lot of people from California, if you ask them what’s the one place you would move outside of California, it’s Austin… I went to our team and said, ‘Where do you want to spend time? And where would you potentially move?’ And they were like, ‘Well, Austin is just the No. 1 choice.’

Musk said that he recently applied for a Texas driver’s license.

Electrek’s Take

I don’t care about the attacks from Elon’s superfans. I’m not scared to say that Elon’s attitude here is childish.

Do it or shut up about it, but don’t make these threats with people’s whole livelihood at stake.

Tesla employs thousands of people at its headquarters, and threatening to take or move those people’s jobs thousands of miles away is not something to be done lightly.

And all that for what? Because you didn’t like California’s response to the pandemic.

Let’s be clear, no one had a perfect reaction to the pandemic, and Elon is certainly included here.

Also, it’s important to note that even if you think that California, or Alameda County, was too strict with its coronavirus response, like Elon does, how angry can you be about that? You have to consider the intentions.

All they wanted to do is to save and protect people. That’s something to keep in mind even if you thought their methods were wrong.

With that in mind, it’s clear that it’s not a good enough reason for Tesla to threaten to leave the state, which has been extremely good to Tesla.

California’s ZEV mandate has helped generate hundreds of millions in revenue for Tesla over the years and its EV rebate helped make the state a top market for the automaker.

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