What will Elon Musk say about the coronavirus during Tesla’s earnings call?
On Wednesday, the CEO who has taken on the mantle as perhaps the business world’s highest-profile coronavirus skeptic will issue his company’s latest financial update for a quarter where its main manufacturing facility was shut down for weeks. And he hasn’t been quiet about it. Last quarter, he broke into a profanity-laced rant about the country’s ongoing quarantine orders in April.
During that call, Musk expressed fears of the financial risk posed to the company’s production by the ongoing public health restrictions. Then he blasted the stay-at-home orders as “fascist,” urging government officials to give people back their “freedom.”
The comments were an abrupt departure from an otherwise standard corporate earnings update. The call briefly went quiet after Musk launched into his tirade.
Since then, Tesla restarted its production lines in Fremont, Calif., in defiance of Alameda County orders, even garnering support from President Trump as it sought to resume building cars. The company was allowed to fully reopen by mid-May and has been pumping out thousands of cars per week since then.
Tesla said this month it delivered 90,650 vehicles in the quarter from April through June, producing 82,272 vehicles during the period. That included 80,050 deliveries of the mass-market Model 3 sedan and newly introduced Model Y crossover, which is expected to be among the company’s most popular offerings. (Tesla recently cut the price of the long-range dual-motor variant of the car by $3,000 to about $50,000 and axed a planned more-affordable standard-range model, highlighting what some analysts see as demand concerns.)
Meanwhile, Tesla has informed employees of some cases of the novel coronavirus inside the Fremont facilities. But the company and Alameda County officials have yet to disclose the full number of cases there. Employees have expressed concern over what they’ve said is a lack of proper social distancing in the plant.
Musk’s April rant followed weeks downplaying the seriousness of the virus and pushing back on public health efforts to limit the spread of the virus.
Musk initially sparred with county officials in March, keeping the plant open despite local orders for businesses to close. After initial uncertainty over whether Tesla could operate, local officials declared Tesla was not essential, and the company agreed to wind down to “minimum basic operations.”
Tesla ultimately reopened its factory in early May, before county officials gave the company the green light to do so.
And Musk has continued to tweet his opinions, too. “Tesla stock price is too high IMO,” he said, using shorthand for “in my opinion,” to the confusion of analysts and investors.
On Monday, he tweeted a photo holding his baby son, who he originally posted was named X Æ A-12, with a German caption. It translates roughly to mean the infant could not use a spoon yet.