Tesla’s Elon Musk to Reopen California Plant Despite Coronavirus Restrictions

Tesla Inc.’s (TSLA) CEO billionaire Elon Musk on Monday said that he will resume production at the electric automaker’s main plant in California at the risk of being arrested as coronavirus-related closure orders are still intact.

“Tesla is restarting production against Alameda County rules,” Musk said in in a Twitter (TWTR) post. “I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

The announcement comes after Musk on Monday filed a lawsuit against Almeda County claiming its coronavirus-related orders have prevented Tesla from restarting operations at its Fremont, California plant planned for last week. Outspoken Musk also threatened to move the carmaker’s operations out of California to Texas or Nevada saying that if the company retains its “manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependant on how Tesla is treated in the future”.

According to media reports, California officials will likely start to take action in an effort to end this standoff between Tesla and Alameda County. It will be up to the local policing agency to enforce the health orders therefore the Fremont Police Department is now faced with the decision on how to tackle the Tesla development.

This is not the first time the billionaire, who has 34 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.

Tesla shares almost doubled in their value this year and were trading 1% lower at $811.29 as of Monday in U.S. trading

Five-star analyst Daniel Ives at Wedbush on Monday reiterated his Hold rating on the stock with a $600 price target, cautioning that moving the California plant could pose a risk to manufacturing.

“Moving away from Fremont would take at least 12-18 months and could add risk to the manufacturing and logistics process in the meantime,” Ives wrote in a note to investors. “There will be no shortage of states courting/tax incentives as already seen today if Tesla ultimately heads down this direction in the coming months.”

Overall, Wall Street analysts share Wedbush’s view on the stock. The Hold consensus rating is based on 10 Sells, 9 Holds, and 8 Buys. The $615.68 average price target implies 24% downside potential in the shares in the next 12 months. (See Tesla’s stock analysis on TipRanks).

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