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Tesla’s Elon Musk Takes Legal Action to Fight Reopening of California Car Plant

Tesla Inc.’s (TSLA) CEO billionaire Elon Musk said he filed a lawsuit against Almeda County claiming its coronavirus-related orders prevent the electric vehicle maker from resuming operations at its main plant in California.

“Tesla is filing a lawsuit against Alameda County immediately,” Musk said in a Twitter (TWTR) post on Saturday. “The unelected & ignorant “Interim Health Officer” of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!”

Musk made the comments in reaction to Alameda County’s interim public health officer’s assertion that health orders to contain the coronavirus outbreak in the region were still in place. This in turn meant that Tesla was not able to resume vehicle production at its main U.S. car plant in Fremont, California yet. The U.S. electric automaker was planning to restart production on Friday afternoon.

“We will continue to put people back to work in a safe and responsible manner,” Tesla said in a separate statement on Saturday. “However, the County’s position left us no choice but to take legal action asking the court to invalidate the County orders to ensure that Tesla and its employees can get back to work.”

Furthermore, Musk threatened to move the carmaker’s operations out of California.

“Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately,” Musk said on Twitter. “If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependant on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in California.”

This is not the first time the outspoken billionaire, who has 33.9 million Twitter followers, voiced his controversial views on the lockdown orders tied to the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, Musk told investors that the virus-related regulations are a “key risk” to the business and called lockdown orders “fascist” demanding people should get their freedom back.

Since the beginning of the year, Tesla shares almost doubled in their value and were trading 5% higher at $819.42 as of Friday in U.S. trading.

Five-star analyst Adam Jonas at Morgan Stanley on Thursday maintained his Hold rating on the stock with a $680 price target, and presented a cautious outlook on the shares.

“While we recently raised our Tesla price target to $680, we believe the shares offer a risk/reward skew commensurate with an Equal-Weight rating relative to our sector at this time,” Jonas wrote in a note to investors.

The remainder of Wall Street analysts share Morgan Stanley’s view on the stock. The Hold consensus outlook is based on 10 Holds, 10 Sells and 7 Buys. The $627.40 average price target implies 23% downside potential in the shares in the next 12 months. (See Tesla’s stock analysis on TipRanks).

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