Trump wants California to let automaker Tesla reopen assembly plant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday asked TeslaTSLA.O) will be able to reopen its electric vehicle assembly plant in California, joining the proposal of the automaker's CEO, Elon Musk, to challenge the county authorities who ordered it to remain closed.

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Tesla's only vehicle plant in the U.S. is seen in Fremont, California, USA, during the global coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19) on May 8, 2020. REUTERS / Nathan Frandino

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“California must let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. This can be done quickly and safely! ”Trump wrote on Twitter. On Monday, Tesla's chief executive, Elon Musk, said production was resuming at the only US vehicle factory, challenging an order to remain closed and saying that if anyone had to be arrested, it should be him.

Tesla's shares rose 3% to $ 835.27 at the start of trading. The company, which on Saturday sued Alameda County for its decision to keep the factory closed, did not immediately comment on Trump's tweet.

Trump is looking forward to the reopening of the U.S. economy and the return of Americans to work.

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He has fought with California for years over a range of issues, including immigration, vehicle fuel efficiency standards, financing for high-speed rail and numerous environmental issues. Trump met with Musk on several occasions during his presidency.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that he spoke to Musk a few days ago and that the concerns of the Tesla founder helped the state begin its reopening in manufacturing steps last week.

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On Monday night, Alameda County health officials said they were aware that Tesla had opened in addition to the so-called minimum basic operations allowed during the blockade and notified the company that it could not operate without a county-approved plan.

In January, Trump told CNBC that Musk is "one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius".

States and cities in the United States are experimenting with ways to safely reopen their economies after the coronavirus outbreak closes businesses and forces tens of millions of Americans to leave work. Across the country, major automakers are starting to reopen factories, with Detroit's three major automakers set to reopen most U.S. factories next week.

Musk over the weekend threatened to leave California for Texas or Nevada after his plant closed. His action highlighted competition for jobs and sparked a race to win the billionaire executive over states that reopened their economies more quickly in response to Trump's encouragement.

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Tesla also has a vehicle factory in Shanghai and is building another one in Berlin. His lawsuit on Saturday claimed that Alameda County, where the plant is located, violated the California constitution, defying Newsom's orders, allowing manufacturers to reopen.

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Newsom's office did not immediately comment Tuesday.

In the past, Musk discussed opening a second plant in the US outside California. In a tweet in February, he requested comments on the potential opening of a plant in Texas.

Reporting by David Shepardson and Doina Chiacu, edited by Franklin Paul and David Gregorio

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