Tesla CEO Elon Musk has risked his arrest to force u.S. auto plants to resume work, despite government directives. The Wall Street Journal reported that Musk’s eagerness was behind his rival in Detroit, the city of Detroit, where it was too late for traditional automakers to take the lead, prompting Mr. Musk to call for a government directive.
Here’s a comprehensive analysis:
Musk has long labeled Tesla a technology company. However, the new corona pneumonia epidemic and his push to get back to production show that the Silicon Valley carmaker still has much in common with Detroit’s auto rivals, at least as much as it does with the tech giant.
Musk’s decision to go against California authorities’ directive to restore some operations at the nation’s only auto assembly plant has become a high-profile business-government standoff. At present, the United States is discussing whether to restart the economy.
This week, Musk has been waiting at a factory in the San Francisco Bay Area to welcome workers back to work. He dared to call the California authorities to arrest him, but so far the california authorities have not done so.
Tech companies aren’t in that hurry.
Traditional technology companies, by contrast, are not so anxious, cautiously slowly moving back to work, and some allow employees to work from home indefinitely.
Technology giants Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook have set the example, announcing that they will allow employees to work from home until the end of the year and canceling various internal and external corporate events. Twitter became the first major technology company to allow employees to work permanently from home.
From a manufacturing perspective, Apple seems to have something in common with Tesla, which has a broad line of hardware products such as the iPhone, iPad and Mac, and needs to consider production issues. However, Apple’s hardware manufacturing has been outsourced to Foxconn, Andshu and other generations of industry and commerce, mainly in China, while the domestic has been steadily promoting the resumption of production, production capacity is gradually restored.
Even so, Apple is cautiously pushing for a return to work for its employees. Apple plans to bring employees back to work in two phases: the first, which includes employees who cannot be remote or face challenges at home, and is now expanding to major offices in parts of the world in late May and early June, and the second phase, which starts in July, will bring more employees back to Apple’s global offices.
Tesla, however, needs a workforce to assemble cars on the production line, often at close range. Tesla employs more than 10,000 people at its Fairmont plant and makes the model 3 and other models.
Rivals resume union ahead of schedule
Tensions with California officials have been steadily escalating since Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced last month that she would allow the plant to reopen. Whitmore’s decision will pave the way for GM, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to bring some workers back to work this week, as they prepare for the resumption of production at their North American plant on May 18.
Tesla’s Felicity plant has been at a standstill since March 23. Musk’s comments became increasingly provocative when local officials in Alameda County said the plant should continue to close. That means Tesla will be the only U.S. automaker that can’t resume production. Musk called the inequality “crazy.”
For Tesla, the competitive risk of keeping its factories closed and Detroit and other regional rivals back in business is that rivals will take the lead and quickly meet demand in the event of a rebound in the economy. By the time Tesla began making new cars, rivals have already rolled out to dealers. It also shows the extent to which competition between firms at home and around the world will be affected by the government’s decision to resume work.
A GM spokesman said the company will restart its parts distribution center, two engine plants and a Upstate New York plant this week that produces radiators and other components. Meanwhile, rivals such as Volkswagen are also resuming production in Europe.
Daimler Group’s Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama reopened on April 27, becoming the first major automaker to resume work in the United States. This was followed by limited resumption of assembly lines at BMW, Hyundai motor and Kia’s plants in South Carolina, Alabama and George Asia starting on May 4.
Last weekend, Musk launched a campaign to get Tesla back into work, threatening to move its headquarters out of California and sue Alameda County in federal court. On Monday, Musk said on Twitter that Tesla would resume production despite its home order, sparking a standoff with California authorities.
Trump stands in solidarity with Musk
On the issue of economic restart, the United States has launched a national debate, political factors have been involved in it. U.S. President Donald Trump has blasted several states, including Michigan, for being too slow to return to work in states where Democrats are governors. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump took to Mr. Musk on Twitter, arguing that California should immediately get Tesla back to work, arguing that it could return quickly and safely. Musk thanked him for that.
Complex production preparations
Tesla executives had been in talks with Alameda County officials about the plan to resume work before Musk’s surprise comeback offensive. Scott Haggerty, the county commissioner involved in the talks, said he thought the two sides had agreed to resume production on Monday, May 18, in line with the resumption of production by other U.S. automakers.
Even at this point in time, Tesla will lag behind its Detroit rivals in production schedules because it has to do some preparatory work for car assembly that other manufacturers are trying to complete this week. Mr. Haggerty said Tesla wanted to open its auto parts stamping workshop ahead of time to prepare for car assembly.
To make cars, Tesla has to stock up in advance on rolled steel that has been flattened, cut them into small pieces, and shape them with large presses to create awnings, side panels and other components. Most automakers in the U.S. put stamping operations in separate factories outside the auto assembly plant. By contrast, Tesla has put all of these production processes in the limited facility at the Fairmont plant, prompting Tesla to hope to finish preparations ahead of schedule and speed up the production of cars.
The risk of the outbreak cannot be ignored
Alameda County has a population of nearly 1.7 million. California data show that Alameda County has 75 deaths related to new coronary pneumonia, making it one of the most affected areas in the Bay Area. Musk has publicly questioned the risks posed by the new corona pneumonia.
Haggerty said Tesla’s buses brought in workers in many other counties, raising concerns among local health officials that the influx could lead to more infections. Alameda County is studying ways to screen the workers before they arrive at the plant. “There is still a nuance between simply ensuring the resumption of births and preventing a surge in infections or deaths. He said.
Alameda County agrees to Tesla’s return to work
Late Tuesday, Alameda County said it was evaluating Tesla’s plans to resume work and seeking additional steps for Tesla. The county said Tesla could maintain a minimum operating condition once the resumption conditions were met to prepare for the resumption of work “as soon as next week.” However, Musk has said Tesla production has resumed.
Tesla workers are also keeping a close eye on the company’s efforts to get back to work. In early April, Tesla let workers who couldn’t work from home take unpaid leave. The workers have been recalled in recent days. A Tesla executive told employees that the plant would start with a limited number of employees and said workers who had doubts about returning to work would not be punished.
Some hourly workers are divided on the issue of re-employment. One hourly worker compared the plant to “economic suicide” and another worried about Tesla’s ability to keep workers safe. Some workers worry that if they don’t return to work at the factory, they may face retaliation. Others worry that they will face huge production pressure slots when they return to work, as Tesla may have to make up for lost production over the past few weeks to meet Musk’s goal of increasing car deliveries by more than 36 percent this year.
Tesla has said it has added partitions and fences to separate work areas and screen workers for fever at the factory entrance. Tesla may stagger the work hours so that workers can arrive in batches. Before Saturday, a Tesla memo showed that the company would not allow workers with a body temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
On Tuesday, when asked about the plant’s resumption of work, Musk replied on Twitter: “Very smoothly.”