Coronavirus: Tesla’s Elon Musk Slams Pandemic Lockdown As ‘Fascist’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has hit out at the lockdown implemented across the United States, as the electric car maker published its first quarter financial report.

Musk slammed the lockdown calling it ‘fascist’ and ‘not democratic’, and said that authorities were effectively imprisoning people in their own homes.

This is not the first time that the colourful Musk has made controversial comments. Last year he won a defamation lawsuit filed by British cave diver Vernon Unsworth, when he insisted that his “pedo guy” tweet had not been meant to be taken literally.

California shutdown

Other famous examples include when he tweeted out of the blue in August 2018, that he was considering taking Tesla private and that he had secured funding to do so.

Those tweets brought Musk to the attention of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and it sued Tesla and sought to ban Musk from acting as an officer or director of a publicly traded company.

In April 2019 the SEC reached a settlement of Musk’s use of Twitter.

Musk agreed to submit public statements about the company’s finances to vetting by its legal counsel before publishing them.

But now Musk is at it again during a conference call to discuss Tesla’s successful first quarter results, which were overshadowed by his rant against the US lockdown during the global Coronavirus pandemic.

On a conference call on Wednesday, Musk said he did not know when Tesla could resume production in California and called the state stay-at-home order a “serious risk” to the business.

Musk’s Telsa had resisted shutdown orders in California as long as it could, only shutting down its main Fremont factory in Alameda County, to the south of San Francisco on 18 March when ordered to do so.

The firm also shut down factories in New York that were making solar roof tiles.

On 7 April Tesla told employees it would furlough all non-essential workers and implement salary cuts.

Fascist move?

And Musk’s frustration at the enforced lockdown was expressed in the conference call on Wednesday.

“To say that they cannot leave their house and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist,” said Musk. “This is not democratic, this is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom!”

In California, the stay-at-home orders runs until at least 31 May.

Musk has previously form here.

Back on 6 March for example he tweeted that “the coronavirus panic is dumb”, but later offered to supply hospitals with free ventilators.

For the record, Tesla posted its third quarterly profit in a row.

The carmaker posted a profit of $16m compared to a net loss of $702m in the same period in 2019.

Revenues meanwhile rose to $5.1bn from $3.7bn in the first quarter in 2019.

Shares of the company rose 8.8 percent to $871 in extended trade.

According to Reuters, on a conference call Musk said he did not know when Tesla could resume production in California and called the state stay-at-home order a “serious risk” to the business.

Tesla reportedly said it could not predict how quickly vehicle manufacturing and global supply chains will normalise, saying it would revisit full-year guidance during the second quarter.

But there is little doubt there will be an impact.

The Covid-19 pandemic has heavily disrupted demand for cars, with some reports suggesting that vehicle demand in the United States has dropped as much as 80 percent in some hard-hit areas in March.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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