What is Bidens take on Tesla? White House straddles EV growth, union jobs as petition goes viral – USA TODAY

  • A Change.org petition received thousands of signatures demanding Biden to acknowledge Tesla more.
  • The Biden administration supports electric vehicle adoption but prefers unionized labor forces.
  • Tesla is not unionized and stands to lose out on EV credits if Build Back Better passes.

As of Wednesday morning, a Change.org petition has received over 40,000 signatures demanding that President Joe Biden acknowledge Tesla’s leadership in the electric vehicle market.

The petition claims that Tesla was repeatedly left out of conversations by the Biden administration in favor of other automakers like General Motors.

More specifically, it points to August 2021 when President Biden signed an executive order setting a target for zero-emissions vehicles to account for half of all automobiles sold in the USA by 2030.

Tesla, the U.S. leader in electric vehicle sales, was not among the auto companies represented at the White House. Company CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that it “seems odd” Tesla wasn’t invited.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the companies that were invited are the three largest employers of United Auto Workers members, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Tesla workers are not part of a union.

“I’ll let you draw your own conclusion,” Psaki said.

‘No turning back:’ Biden signs order targeting half of all vehicles sold in US to be zero-emissions by 2030

The petition also raises the fact that Musk was not invited to the White House last week for a meeting with top U.S. CEOs about passing Build Back Better. The meeting’s roster included heavyweights like General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Ford CEO Jim Farley, according to The Hill.

“The recent event at the White House was for business leaders that support BBB to talk about how it is good for the economy. And last summer’s event at the White House was for U.S. automakers like Ford, GM and Stellantis who were transitioning and expanding into the EV market,” says Vedant Patel, White House assistant press secretary.

Patel says that Tesla has done “extraordinary things for electric vehicles” but that its CEO has suggested that he opposes new EV tax credits. 

Musk has indeed been an outspoken opponent of Biden’s Build Back Better legislation. In a Wall Street Journal summit in December, Musk said, “It might be better if the bill doesn’t pass.”

Tesla stands to lose its competitive edge if a measure of the bill passes, which grants a $12,500 tax credit to anyone who purchases an electric vehicle from manufacturers with a unionized workforce.

“President Biden is focused on creating good union jobs across the country and believes firmly that every worker in every state must have a free and fair choice to join a union and the right to bargain collectively with their employer,” Patel told USA TODAY.

In a Labor Day speech in the East Room, Biden demonstrated his explicit support for unions by saying, “When unions win, workers across the board win. That’s a fact. Families win, community wins, America wins. We grow. And despite this, workers have been getting cut out of the deal for too long a time.”

Despite the potential bill and Biden’s outspoken support for unions, Tesla’s stock has been doing better than ever. 

Tesla’s most recent earnings report last week showed record growth in profitability and vehicle production and output, despite the volatility of 2021.

The electric vehicle company managed to increase production of cars to 305,840 in Q4 2021, showing 83% growth compared to the same period last year, according to its earnings reports. On top of that, Tesla managed to nearly double profits from its automotive business, from approximately $7 billion to nearly $14 billion in 2021.

General Motors, which held its Q4 2021 earnings on Tuesday, reported that it sold 1,477,000 vehicles globally for the quarter, according to its earnings deck.

While General Motors still sells more cars than Tesla, Tesla’s market cap, which indicates the value of its shares, surpasses $1 trillion.

Part of it is due to Tesla’s valuation as a tech company with innovative software, which offers it strong projected growth and flexibility amid a pandemic.

Tesla’s record numbers: Tesla delivers a record number of cars as other manufacturers struggle amid chip shortage

When many major automakers had to temporarily close plants because they can’t get enough of the specific semiconductors their cars need, Tesla’s engineers wrote new firmware that allowed them to sub in alternative chips, and thus source more from suppliers.

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Contributing: Joey Garrison, Courtney Subramanian and The Motley Fool

Michelle Shen is a Money & Tech Digital Reporter for USA TODAY. You can reach her @michelle_shen10 on Twitter. 

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