Tesla’s plans to reopen its Fremont factory have been scuppered, resulting in a legal battle. Based on new guidance issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom last Thursday which allowed manufacturers to restart operations, the electric car maker intended to get its facility running again on Friday. However, Newsom’s guidance allows counties to adopt stricter rules as they see fit, something Tesla’s local authority has chosen to do.
Alameda County’s shelter-in-place order has been extended until the end of May, and despite some tweaks to the restrictions, manufacturing is still a no-go.
Tesla has responded by filing a lawsuit with the US District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking an injunction against Alameda’s shelter-in-place order. It claims the county’s ruling “contradicts the Governor’s Order to the extent it restricts the operation of business operating in the federal critical infrastructure sectors”.
Alameda County told The Verge on Saturday that it was “communicating directly and working closely with the Tesla team on the ground in Fremont…This has been a collaborative, good faith effort to develop and implement a safety plan that allows for reopening while protecting the health and well-being of the thousands of employees who travel to and from work at Tesla’s factory.”
In a blog post, Tesla said:
“We will continue to put people back to work in a safe and responsible manner. However, 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. We filed a lawsuit on May 9 asking the court to invalidate the County Orders, to the extent the County claims they prevent Tesla from resuming operations.”
The company’s ‘Return to Work Playbook’ notes numerous new safety measures including the issuing of PPE (personal protective equipment) where necessary, increased cleaning of work areas and the adjustment of shifts to avoid too many workers being in the same area at one time.
Amidst all this, CEO Elon Musk has taken to Twitter to claim Tesla will “immediately” move its headquarters and any “future programs” to Texas or Nevada. “If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependen [sic] on how Tesla is treated in the future,” he added.
Musk has used his 33.9 million-followed Twitter account to downplay the risks of Coronavirus on numerous occasions and has been increasingly critical of shelter-in-place orders. He also Tweeted “Tesla stock price is too high imo” on 1 May, leading to a 10 per cent drop in the company’s share price.