Tesla Tussles With California on Reopening Factory

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The last time Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report had a showdown with state officials on whether it could keep its Fremont, California factory up and running, it lost.

This time is anyone's guess. But the electric carmaker is already girding for another showdown with officials as it looks to ramp back up production on its Model 3,X,S and Y (that spells sexy, if you're Elon Musk) as soon as Wednesday despite stay-at-home orders that remain in place for some 40 million Californians amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Internal messages viewed by Bloomberg indicate that Tesla is asking some of its workers - mostly those responsible for paint and stamping operations - to return to work as early as April 29, six days ahead of the tentative May 3 date currently being considered by state officials as a date to begin cautiously allowing businesses to reopen.

The potential battle come as states weigh the health and safety vs. economic benefits of reopening for business some seven weeks after the coronavirus pandemic brought the U.S. economy to an unprecedented standstill. Several states including Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas and Wyoming began lifting restrictions on some businesses this past weekend. 

Tesla last month gained headlines after defying stay-at-home orders and keeping its carmaking factory up and running, leading to a run-in with the local Alameda County sheriff’s office. Tesla argued it was an essential service and should remain open; the sheriff’s department argued otherwise. Tesla closed the site on March 29.

Analysts at Credit Suisse estimate that the factory’s shutdown has been driving about $300 million of cash burn a week.

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