In the first instalment of a three-part interview with Automotive News’ “Daily Drive” podcast published Friday, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk bewailed the “entitled” and “complacent” character of people in the United States, and glorified the “smart” and “hard working people” of China.
New York and California — states that have supported his businesses, have been specifically criticized by Musk, especially Tesla, with considerable tax breaks, supervisory credits and other government help.
“How about China as an EV strategy leader in the world?” is what automotive News publisher Jason Stein, who conducted the interview asked Elon.
“China rocks in my opinion. The energy in China is great. People there – there’s like a lot of smart, hard-working people. And they’re really — they’re not entitled, they’re not complacent, whereas I see in the United States increasingly much more complacency and entitlement especially in places like the Bay Area, and L.A. and New York,” is what his reply was.
Chinese government officials aided Tesla secure loans worth around $1.6 billion to construct and begin manufacturing vehicles last year at the company’s comparatively new Shanghai factory. After the region was struck by a Covid-19 outbreak and issued extensive quarantines that temporarily suspended manufacturing there, this year, the Shanghai government assisted Tesla get back to normal operations quickly, at its new plant.
Musk highlighted that, Telsa has not received as much help from the government in China as domestic companies. He said, “They have been supportive. But it would be weird if they were more supportive to a non-Chinese company. They’re not.”
His previously stated derision for communism contradicts the vigour the mercurial Musk expressed regarding China. Musk ridiculed social welfare programs in general, and Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” in a tweet on Monday this week.
He also compared the U.S., California and New York to sports teams about to lose their winning status during the Automotive News podcast.
“When you’ve been winning for too long you sort of take things for granted. The United States, and especially like California and New York, you’ve been winning for too long. When you’ve been winning too long you take things for granted. So, just like some pro sports team they win a championship you know a bunch of times in a row, they get complacent and they start losing.”
The states and Tesla
“Tesla has had the least government support of any car company,” Musk said among U.S. automakers.
Tesla’s repayment of a loan to the U.S. Department of Energy ahead of schedule is something he boasted about.
The Obama-era Department of Energy awarded Tesla a $465 million loan to set up a vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California in June 2009. Also, the Model S. Tesla reimbursed it with interest by May 2013, nine years ahead of schedule to begin production of its flagship all-electric sedan.
During the financial crisis that began in 2008, the DOE loan was small compared with the tens of billions in TARP loans that went to bail out General Motors and Chrysler.
Tesla has although benefited from other forms of government aid in the U.S. Tesla’s government assistance in the U.S. has surpassed $4.9 billion, according to analysis by the Los Angeles Times.
New York State spent $959 million on a solar-panel factory in Buffalo, as per CNBC and others’ reports. The solar-panel factory, now operated by Tesla, is in an initiative to bring more than 1,000 high-paying tech and manufacturing jobs to the state.
The employment obligations in New York also haven’t been met by Tesla, as yet. It has obtained a full-year extension to meet the head count requirement, as per a financial filing out this week. Musk’s electric car and renewable energy venture will have to pay back $41 million to the Empire State if it fails to.
Sales and Tesla stock
Elon Musk also celebrated the fact that Tesla is now seen as a “legitimate” American and multinational automaker on the podcast.
The CEO protested:
“It’s not worth trying to massage the stock market or manage investor expectations. It’s just. You know? At the end of the day, if you make great cars and the company’s healthy and making great products investors will be happy…If you make lousy products your customers will be unhappy and then your investors will be unhappy.”
His advice to other entrepreneurs was:
“My advice, you know, to corporate America or companies worldwide is spend less time on marketing presentations and more time on your product. Honestly that should be the number one thing taught in business schools. Put down that spreadsheet and that PowerPoint presentation and go and make your product better.”
Musk said that Tesla saw “strong orders through the whole pandemic.” In conclusion, the CEO stated, “Having a traditional dealer situation, I think, seems increasingly unnecessary and I think probably the pandemic just reinforced that.”
Tesla shares closed down 3.8% on Friday, but have been on an outstanding run this year in spite of the global coronavirus pandemic and the commencement of a recession.