Elon Musk put its support behind the notion that Tesla’s current legal and regulatory troubles with several government agencies are due to the company’s disruptiveness in several industries, lack of paying for ads, and lack of political contributions.
The comment dismisses some serious accusations as just repercussions for Tesla angering the wrong people.
Over the last few months, some Tesla fans have complained about what they see as a ramp-up of regulatory oversight on Tesla.
As we discussed on the podcast last week, Tesla has been hit with four NHTSA recalls in just three weeks.
They were all fixed with over-the-air software updates, and some Tesla fans that Musk promotes on Twitter have been pushing the idea that it is suspicious that the agency has been “so focused” on Tesla lately.
Then Tesla recently revealed that it was again subpoenaed by the SEC over tweets by Musk.
And most recently, Tesla was hit by a lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) alleging “systematic racial discrimination and harassment.”
Now Musk backed on Twitter the growing conspiracy that this increased government oversight of Tesla is due to the company stepping on toes:
While simply a one-word reply to a Twitter comment, this response from the CEO dismisses Tesla’s current troubles with the listed government agencies as some kind of backlash for “upsetting” people within the industries it operates in and not buying ads, which Musk has linked to Tesla’s treatment in the media before, and lack of contribution to politicians.
It’s also Musk’s first comment, albeit indirect, on the DFEH’s lawsuit against Tesla, which includes serious allegations from 50 former Tesla employees about a serious problem about how Black employees are treated at Fremont factory.
I am not going to sit here and say that Tesla has never ruffled any feathers that attracted unnecessary government attention before, but I think it’s dangerous to bundle all of Tesla’s current issues into this conspiratorial agenda.
First off, it’s upsetting that Musk’s first comment on the DFEH lawsuit, which as we previously reported has been grossly downplayed by Tesla, is through this poorly thought-out theory. He needs to address this upfront. Those allegations are sickening to read and they are being corroborated by a lot of people who worked at Tesla.
I don’t think it’s okay for Musk to stay quiet on the issue beyond this comment.
Secondly, the whole conspiracy theory falls apart pretty quickly when you look at the details.
Let’s take the four NHTSA recalls for example. Yes, those are a lot of recalls in a short period of time, but does that mean that they were not valid and only exist because NHTSA has a bone to pick with Tesla?
No. The biggest one regarding the seatbelt chime was actually initiated by a South Korean agency, and the same problem was found in all Tesla cars so the recall extended to the US.
How about the one with the heat pump? Transport Canada was involved and it was a very real issue that resulted in many owners losing heat in extreme cold in a bunch of different countries, including the US.
I agree that the two other “recalls” were more questionable since they were related to a technicality with the pedestrian warning sound regulation and a driving behavior of FSD Beta that was a driving violation but common and optional to drivers.
But now you actually have two very real and needed recalls, which weren’t even initiated by NHTSA, and two recalls, which were based on technicalities more than anything but still valid if you go by the book.
Yes, we might need a better word for a “recall” when it only requires an over-the-air software update, but is that really NHTSA going hard on Tesla or just weird timing?
As for the other agencies mentioned in the tweet, the SEC is only trying to make sure Tesla and Musk respect the terms of its agreed settlement, and as for the California DMV, I don’t even know what Tesla would have to complain about.
If anything, they are getting preferential treatment from the agency by not having to report the FSD Beta program as self-driving test mileage to the agency.
The only thing that happened recently is that the agency considered changing its definition of self-driving test milage to force Tesla to report more data about the program, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, even though the end result would only be a little more visibility into the progress of the program.
Would that be a bad thing?
Yes, competition is competition and unions don’t like Tesla, but if I were Musk, I wouldn’t encourage this conspiracy theory as it dismisses some potentially very real problems that need to be addressed.
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