'Is making cars essential?': Critics question Tesla exemption from curfew

Tesla plant in California's Fremont has been exempted from fresh curfews imposed in the state to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic and this has made many question the grounds on which such an exemption has been provided by authorities at a time when the curfew covers around 94% of the population.

File photo - New Tesla electric vehicles are seen in a lot at Tesla's primary vehicle factory in Fremont, California. (REUTERS)
File photo - New Tesla electric vehicles are seen in a lot at Tesla's primary vehicle factory in Fremont, California.

The exemption allows Tesla to continue its work days as usual at its assembly plant in Fremont while adhering to the health and safety protocols already spelt out earlier this year. Essential work and services have been allowed to function in the curfew period which has led many online to ask what part of making a car or even an electric vehicle essential.

Speculations suggest that local health officials may not have wanted to re-ignite a tussle with Tesla CEO Elon Musk after he had brazenly courted arrest after re-starting operations in May despite not getting the permission to do so. The scale of the confrontation even brought in Donald Trump who apparently leaned in favour of Musk.

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Musk wasn't arrested. The factory resumed operations and with the promise that all safety guidelines will be strictly imposed and adhered to.

Local media reports in the past have highlighted some workers as saying that it isn't possible to ensure safety protocols at the assembly lines, some saying they remain concerned. This concern may now widen because while there is a 10:00 pm to 5:00 am stay-at-home order till December 21, Tesla and essential services have been given an exemption.

Experts believe the primary reason for Tesla being determined to continue operations is to ensure it is able to roll out record deliveries. The EV-maker has been on a roll this year, despite all the challenges facing the global auto industry, and has expanded its sales and service network.

Covid-19 cases surpassed 12 million on Saturday.

(With inputs from AFP)

First Published Date: 23 Nov 2020, 10:32 AM IST
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