Elon Musk accuses Biden of ignoring Tesla, says he’ll do the right thing in the White House

Joe Biden, left, and Elon Musk

Evelyn Hochstein | Reuters Andrew Harrier | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, in an email exchange with CNBC on Tuesday, accused President Joe Biden of ignoring his electric car company in favor of paying more attention to older automakers.

But he also sought to reassure White House officials who worry he would do or say something embarrassing if invited to speak at a White House event.

“They have nothing to worry about,” Musk said. “I would have done the right thing.”

Musk’s comments came after CNBC contacted him about new reports that Biden and the White House had no immediate plans to invite Musk to possible upcoming meetings with corporate leaders. People who spoke to CNBC about how the White House handled Musk declined to be named in order to speak freely about the private conversations.

“The idea of ​​the feud is not entirely correct. Biden has conspicuously ignored Tesla at every turn and wrongly stated to the public that General Motors leads the electric car industry, when in fact Tesla produced more than 300,000 electric vehicles in the last quarter while GM produced 26,” Musk said. in e-mail.

Tesla It announced in January that it had produced and delivered more than 300,000 vehicles globally in the fourth quarter. general motors It reported US sales of 26 electric vehicles, including a Hummer pickup model and 25 Bolt EV models, during the fourth quarter.

GM recently announced It was extending its moratorium on Chevrolet Bolt EVs until early April but plans to resume retail sales soon. The company said so she plans To spend $35 billion on electric and self-driving cars by 2025.

For the first time in his presidencyIn February, Biden acknowledged placing Tesla as the nation’s largest electric vehicle maker.

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Musk and the White House have been at odds since the start of the Biden administration as the president pushes for infrastructure reform and tries to encourage auto companies to turn green.

Standing next to Biden in January, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the company wants to invest $7 billion in Michigan In order to “strengthen our electric vehicle manufacturing”. General Motors is headquartered in Detroit. Musk responded at the time to Barra and Biden’s comments by tweeting, “Begins with T, ends with A, ESL in the middle.”

“It got so funny that no one in the administration was even allowed to say the word ‘Tesla’! Public outrage and media pressure around this statement forced him to admit that Tesla is in fact leading the electric car industry. He wouldn’t exactly call that ‘praise’,” he said. Musk in the email on Tuesday.

A White House spokesperson praised Tesla on Tuesday in an email to CNBC: “Tesla has done extraordinary things for electric vehicles and that’s a big part of why the entire industry now knows that electric vehicles are the future.”

The White House representative also criticized Musk. “Tesla has also benefited greatly from previous electric vehicle tax credits, but unfortunately, its CEO has proposed opposing the new electric vehicle tax credits,” the representative said.

Musk has also mocked Biden on some occasions. He once said Biden was ‘still asleep’ Effectively reflects former President Donald Trump’s “Sleepy Joe” insults.

Some in the administration privately named Musk, such as “a-hole” for what he said about Biden, according to people familiar with the situation.

“I have nothing against Biden other than that, aside from public concern about more deficit spending, which would apply to any president, and it effectively supported the Obama and Biden elections,” Musk told CNBC on Tuesday.

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Data from the Nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics shows that Musk contributed just over $30,000 to the Democratic National Committee during the 2012 election cycle when former President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden were fighting Republican candidate Mitt Romney for reelection. He also gave more than $2,500 directly to Obama’s presidential campaign in that cycle.

Musk verb not He gave to Biden’s campaign when he ran for president in 2020. He voiced support for businessman and Democratic candidate Andrew Yang instead. He recently contributed to the Republican National Committee.

Musk, who also runs space exploration company SpaceX, has a net worth of more than $220 billion, according to Forbes.

White House Freezing?

Biden and senior White House officials privately signaled to their allies that they have no immediate plans to invite Musk to any upcoming meetings with top executives, according to people familiar with the matter. These people declined to be named in order to speak freely about private conversations.

Musk berated the president on Twitter, including in late January after Biden met General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Farley at a briefing with other corporate leaders to discuss the president’s Build Back Better initiative, which stalled in Congress. In his tweet, Musk described Biden as “a wet sock in human form.”

When asked at that time before CNBC About Musk’s absence, Brian Daisy, Biden’s chief economic adviser, said: “When it comes to electric cars, we want the United States to be where the electric car revolution is going. As we gain more global export share, we create more good jobs here at America. So this is not about any individual company.”

Behind the scenes, Musk’s criticism of the president and his team has only intensified, according to more than six people familiar with the matter.

Biden advisers have been particularly opposed to inviting Musk to future industry events, because they worry the outspoken CEO might say something that could embarrass the president or management, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

When asked about this, Musk first responded with an email with two “rolling on the floor laughing” emoji. Then he followed that up by saying the White House shouldn’t have to worry about him doing anything outlandish.

A person close to the president told CNBC that there is an urge to bring Musk to the table Discusses the The president’s trillion-dollar infrastructure package since the CEO founded a tunneling company called The Boring Company.

Some of those people in the White House, including climate adviser Ali Zaid, made it clear that only union car companies, such as General Motors and Ford, should meet with Biden and top administration officials.

The White House recanted this description.

“Ali Zaidi has met every automaker at least once — including Tesla, many times. President Biden is focused on creating good union jobs across the country and firmly believes that every worker in every state should have a free and fair choice to join the union and the right to collective bargaining with the employer.”

Tesla is not a unionist and took a mask United Auto Workers Union Through his Twitter account. UAW . supported Biden for president during the previous election campaign.

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