Last month, President Biden hosted a big gathering on the South Lawn of the White House to declare an ambitious goal: by 2030, 50% of the new passenger vehicle sales would be an electric, plug-in hybrid, or fuel-cell electric vehicles. However, one of the industry’s most important players was missing. Elon Musk and Tesla, the country’s largest electric-car manufacturer, were absent from the celebrations.
It could have signaled the end of Tesla’s long honeymoon with the government, during which the firm was fueled by federal tax incentives, which fueled growth and sales and emissions compliance credits which ushered in profitability, and comparatively hands-off supervision that permitted it to put modern technology in the hands of the customer without fear of regulators interfering.
The most recent setback occurred earlier this month. House Democrats introduced a proposal that would allow consumers to receive an additional $4,500 in consumer benefits if they purchased a new electric vehicle built by a union in the United States. Tesla is the sole major American automaker without a unionized workforce.
The House Ways and Means Committee agreed to send the bill’s portions to the House Budget Committee, including the electric car and green energy initiatives.
The idea caused Musk, Tesla’s CEO, to take to Twitter to express his displeasure with the apparent slight in recent times.
In reply to a tweet criticizing lawmakers for “targeting one company,” he said, “This is authored by the Ford/UAW lobbyists, as they produce their electric car in Mexico.” “It’s not clear how this benefits American taxpayers,” Musk stated.
It’s a new playing field for the corporation, which had stronger ties to the last two administrations. It’s also part of a larger twist for tech behemoths and Silicon Valley, which have been subjected to increased regulation, public scrutiny, and total scrutiny under the Biden administration.
Tesla, in particular, is accustomed to being praised and even coddled by a government keen to demonstrate Silicon Valley’s creativity and innovative spirit brought in by a favorable regulatory environment. In 2010, President Barack Obama accompanied Musk on a tour of Musk’s rocket-building business SpaceX. According to The Washington Post, Musk spoke with President Donald Trump and even thanked him for his backing when he defiantly reopened Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., manufacturing plants amid the coronavirus lockdowns last year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started an inquiry into Tesla’s driver-assistance suite, dubbed as Autopilot, in connection with around a dozen collisions involving parked emergency vehicles the same month Musk was rejected at the Biden event. Tesla has come under fire for the largely unregulated technology in the wake of driver deaths while software was turned on, as well as fears that it has led to driver inattention.