Electric car specialist Tesla defied coronavirus lockdown orders and had already restarted production over the weekend as it commenced legal action to reopen – an exclusive report by The Verge revealed, which the company has since confirmed.
Tesla production line workers had contacted the US website on condition of anonymity.
Soon after The Verge published its exclusive story, Tesla boss Elon Musk Musk confirmed via Twitter that the California assembly line is reopening in violation of Alameda County’s order and claimed he too will be working on the production line.
“If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,” Musk wrote on Twitter.
The Verge reported that two Tesla workers claimed the company had assembled approximately 200 Model Y SUVs and Model 3 sedans over the weekend – as Musk was preparing to sue Alameda County over the lockdown.
California health officials had previously said manufacturing was allowed to restart in the state.
However, the Tesla factory also falls under the jurisdiction of Alameda County, which did not want manufacturing in the region to restart until next month amid fears of expanding the number of coronavirus clusters and outbreaks.
Musk responded to the extended shutdown period by taking legal action to fight the lockdown orders and threatening to take the factory – and thousands of jobs – away from the state.
However, it has since emerged the Tesla assembly line had restarted in any case, assembling approximately 200 examples of the new Model Y SUV (pictured below) and Model 3 sedan (pictured at the bottom of this story).
Tesla is now calling back staff to work shifts later this week.
“We’re happy to get back to work and have implemented very detailed plans to help you keep safe as you return,” according to an email seen by the news agency Reuters.
The email was titled “Furlough Has Ended And We Are Back To Work in Production!”, Reuters reported.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said California “should do whatever is necessary to help the electric carmaker reopen its only US vehicle factory if it wants to keep the company in its state”, the Reuters news agency reported.
“California should prioritise doing whatever they need to do to solve those health issues so that he can open quickly and safely or ... he’s moving his production to a different state,” Mnuchin told the CNBC TV network.
Meanwhile, a Texas official wrote a Twitter message designed to get Musk’s attention, inviting the eccentric electric car boss to relocate his factory there.
“We have a motivated, pro-business governor,” said Richard Cortez, county judge of Texas’ Hidalgo County, the Reuters news agency reported. “What we no longer have is a shelter at home mandate.”
In response, Musk wrote on Twitter “Note is much appreciated.”