Tesla has received a nod of approval to reopen its Fremont factory in Northern California from the United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Fremont plant is Tesla’s main vehicle production facility and produces all models of the company’s available electric fleet.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced Thursday night that the company would attempt to reopen Fremont with a limited workforce on Friday, May 8, after a nearly month-and-a-half long shutdown. However, Alameda County health officials stopped the electric automaker from resuming production.
Mnuchin appeared on an episode of CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” where he vocalized his support to reopen the Fremont factory and Elon Musk’s disagreement with Alameda County officials.
“I agree with Elon Musk. He’s one of the biggest employers and manufacturers in California, and California should prioritize doing whatever they need to do to solve those health issues so that he can open quickly and safely,” Mnuchin said.
After the plan to reopen the facility was foiled, Musk stated a lawsuit would be opened against Alameda County. Tesla’s corporate attorneys took no more than a few hours to open a suit against the county, claiming that the closure was “inexplicable” as it ignored an earlier order from Governor Gavin Newsom that allowed transportation and manufacturing businesses to resume operation.
Mnuchin believes that if the County or State pushes back at Musk, he will move Tesla’s operations outside of the state. This gesture could spell significant economic consequences for California. Tesla is the only major automaker left in California and employs 20,000 people in the Bay area alone.
“They’re going to find that if he’s threatened, he’s going to move his production to a different state,” Mnuchin said.
Musk hinted that his facilities could leave California for Texas and Nevada if changes were not made.
“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,” Musk tweeted on Saturday.
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 dependen on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2020
On May 9, Tesla also released a 38-page document titled, “Return To Work Playbook,” where the company outlines its complete plan to reopen Fremont while protecting and maintaining the health and safety of its employees.
When Tesla was forced to close Giga Shanghai in China after the virus broke out, the company managed to reopen on February 10 after just a one-week shutdown. Tesla implemented a series of safety measures that included temperature measurement of each employee before entering the building, social distancing measures within company shuttles, and regular sanitation of the building.
The company’s plan for Fremont is similar to Shanghai, Tesla’s report stated. “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.”