Tesla isn't manufacturing any cars right now, according to Bloomberg. The news outlet reports that Tesla was forced to close its plant in China over a shortage of components for the Model 3, the only car it produces there. Workers at the facility were already on a five-day Labor Day break, but Tesla told them to stay home an extra two days.
The automaker has already closed its only other plant making cars, in Fremont, California, due to stay-at-home orders in the county. Tesla initially tried to remain open until local officials got involved and shut the U.S. facility down. CEO Elon Musk has publicly lost his cool over the forced stoppages, regularly going on tirades on Twitter clamoring for the economy to reopen in a manner reminiscent of President Trump's tweets to the same effect that suggested states in lockdown "liberate" themselves.
Tesla is rumored to be reopening its factories as early as tomorrow, May 8th, as California eases restrictions on stay-at-home orders for certain businesses.
Pull out your tiny violin — Musk also went on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast (again) and said the shelter-in-place orders "go way too far" despite the climbing death toll due to there coronavirus, which has killed more than 75,000 people in the U.S. alone. "Where do civil liberties fit in this picture? What can the government make you do and what can they make you not do?" Musk asked. In Tesla's first-quarter earnings call he called the orders "fascist," and said they are severely harming Tesla's suppliers.
Tesla workers have a different take — Tesla workers have slammed Musk for the comments, saying he's a "rich, arrogant guy who cares about nothing but his money." Which, yeah, is exactly what's going on. Tesla posted exceptional results for the first quarter with an operating profit of $16 million on 100,000 vehicles manufactured. It performed so well, in fact, that Musk qualified for an enormous payout as met targets translated into vesting shares.
Coronavirus will likely hit the second quarter hard, but that's no excuse for acting like a selfish child and disregarding the safety of workers who are already vulnerable enough. Coronavirus is highly communicable within the first 3-4 days of infection and testing kits are hard to come by, leaving workers at serious risk.
Musk's blowups also throw into doubt the motivations behind his haphazard donations of "ventilators" to hospitals around the country, making them seem far less altruistic.
With China opening up again and some parts of the U.S. set to do likewise, the Tesla-making machine will come back online eventually. All that remains to be seen is when, and how much unhinged commentary Elon Musk offers on Twitter or in public before that happens.