WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged California to allow Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) to reopen its electric vehicle assembly plan.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump stands next to coronavirus disease testing machines as he addresses a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak press briefing in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
“California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!” Trump wrote on Twitter. On Monday, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said production was resuming at the automaker’s sole U.S. vehicle factory, defying an order to stay closed and saying if anyone had to be arrested it should be him.
Tesla did not immediately comment on Trump’s tweet.
Trump is eager for the U.S. economy to reopen and for Americans to return to work.
He has sparred with California for years over a series of issues, including immigration, vehicle fuel efficiency standards, funding for high-speed rail and numerous environmental issues. Trump has met with Musk on several occasions during his presidency.
In January, Trump told CNBC that Musk is “one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius.”
States and cities around the United States are experimenting with ways to safely reopen their economies after the coronavirus outbreak shuttered businesses and forced tens of millions of Americans out of work. Around the country, major automakers are beginning to reopen plants with Detroit’s Big Three automakers set to reopen most U.S. plants next week.
Musk over the weekend threatened to leave California for Texas or Nevada over his factory’s closure. His move has highlighted the competition for jobs and ignited a rush to woo the billionaire executive by states that have reopened their economies more quickly in response to encouragement from Trump.
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday said he spoke to Musk several days ago and that the Tesla founder’s concerns helped prompt the state to begin its phased reopening of manufacturing last week.
Tesla, which also has a vehicle plant in Shanghai and is building another in Berlin, on Saturday sued the county, alleging it had violated California’s constitution by defying Newsom’s orders allowing manufacturers to reopen.
In the past, Musk has discussed opening a second U.S. factory outside California. In a tweet in February, he solicited comments on potentially opening a factory in Texas.
Reporting by David Shepardson and Doina Chiacu, Editing by Franklin Paul and David Gregorio