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Why Elon Musk and Joe Biden Both Love Electric Vehicles but can't Stand Each Other

By: Damilare Taiwo
 minute read

By 2030, president Joe Biden wants half of all new vehicles sold to be EVs. This shows the level of interest the president has in Electric Vehicles. Some of the plans he made to realize the goals are tax credits for buyers and government support by providing more charging stations to plug them into.

However, the president hasn't shown much love for Tesla which by far is the largest maker of EVs in the world. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk is aware of the president's lack of interest in his company and he wasn't afraid to criticize him on Twitter.

Tesla is the largest maker of EVs around and one would naturally think Biden should lean more on the company's side to produce more for the US citizens considering the gains or benefits that come with it but the president has been mostly silent about Tesla.

The UAW could be the reason for the muteness

This development could massively affect jobs negatively in the coming years because EVs have fewer moving parts and it takes 30% less labour to assemble according to Ford estimates contrasted with traditional internal combustion engine vehicles which have more individual moving components and more labour to assemble. This posed a major concern for the United Auto Workers and Biden has been getting resistance from them.

The major benefits of EVs are from their battery packs (which is composed of battery cells, modules and then pack). The unionized automakers — General Motors (GM) and LG Chem, have set up joint ventures to build battery plants, which will be situated to the site of GM's closed Lordstown assembly plant in Ohio rather than build them at their own factories. But the exact location is not known, yet plus, it's not clear as of this writing if the factories will finally be unionized.

Elon Snubed by Biden

President Joe Biden organized an EV summit at the White House which was chaired by UAW President Ray Curry, General Motors (GM), Ford (F) and Stellantis CEOs in August of this year — a meeting to which Elon was not invited.

The UAW is one of the largest and most diverse unions in North America, with members in virtually every sector of the economy but Tesla is not part of that union.

Could this signal why Musk was not invited to that meeting? Or could it be because if Biden is seen as an enthusiastic supporter for a nonunion automaker Tesla; would make it much more difficult for him to keep the support of his UAW allies in the switch to EVs?

When White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked if not being a part of the union was the reason Musk wasn't invited to the EV summit even though Tesla made more sales of EVs than some who are making a fraction of sales but were present at the meeting.

Her response

"Well, these are the three largest employers of the United Auto Workers, so I'll let you draw your own conclusion," she said.

Read also: Kansas man held on the charge of threatening Joe Biden

The UAW vs Musk

Elon Musk is one of the richest men in the world, no doubt and he owns and co-founded 4 different companies — Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company. He leads all product design, engineering and global manufacturing of several products. It is worthy to note that someone like that will have a tremendous amount of self-discipline and strong will to be able to handle any challenge.

In the fight against organized labour, the National Labour Relations Board has ruled against Musk several times but Tesla remains firm and steadfast against unions and has repeatedly mocked the union and its supporters.

For example, he tweeted in November, "New UAW slogan: 'Fighting for their right to steal money from workers!'".

Biden and the UAW have a really good relationship and Musk tweeted in October saying the relationship between the UAW and Biden is the main reason Tesla has not received any support from the otherwise pro-EV administration.

"Biden is a UAW sock puppet" Must tweet.

Musk vs. Biden EV Plans

Attractive tax credit for consumers who bought EVs built in the United States by unionized labour, government support for a network of charging stations are some of the goodies to encourage consumers to buy EVs.

Musk doesn't support union labour thus he won't benefit much from those perks. For instance, Biden's BBB legislation that passed in the House gives a whopping $4,500 in additional subsidy to EVs that are made by union labour, Tesla won't benefit from those subsidies.

When the CEOs of GM and Ford were again invited to the White House by the president last month, January to discuss the BBB and EVs, Musk again was not invited. This sparked off more Twitter attacks.

Another thing that caused a lot of outrage on Twitter was the president Tweet showing GM CEO Mary Barra in a video saying "I meant it when I said the future was going to be made right here in America. Companies like GM and Ford are building more electric vehicles here at home than ever before."

This statement is tricky since Ford and GM haven't made EVs very long and only produces only a fraction of the EVs Tesla produces — Tesla produces several hundred thousand EVs in the USA. Plus most GM cars are made outside of the USA and shipped back.

A White House official said Musk's lack of patronage for the EV arrangements in the Build Back Better legislation was what kept him from appearing at the meeting and not his lack of support for the union labour.

"The recent event at the White House was for business leaders that support BBB to talk about how it is good for the economy," the official said.

Furthermore, the official was asked by CNN why the president prominently did not mention Tesla when talking about Electric Vehicles, "Tesla has done extraordinary things for electric vehicles and that's a big part of why the whole industry now knows EVs are the future. Tesla also benefited greatly from past EV tax credits, but unfortunately, their CEO has suggested opposition to new EV tax credits." the official responded.

But it seems Musk's lack of interest in union labour is also a factor why he wasn't invited to the meetings on two several occasions. The official from the White House asserts "We are going to continue fighting for legislation to expand access and create high-quality jobs building EVs. President Biden is focused on creating good union jobs across the country and believes firmly that every worker in every state must have a free and fair choice to join a union and the right to bargain collectively with their employer."

More Reasons Musk Doesn't Like Biden

The senate democrats proposal to tax America’s richest — which will raise billions of dollars from apparently 10 of them of which Elon Musk is one of them, the Build Back Better legislation which has a minimum federal tax rate of 15 per cent on highly profitable companies in the USA including Tesla (which is a creative move by the president, by the way, to cause highly profitable companies to pay tax. Because companies like Tesla could avoid paying $0 in federal taxes insisting that all of their profits come from outside of the US but their domestic operations lose money which is in compliance with the US tax code terms), and the EV incentives which doesn’t sit well with Musk pisses him off against Biden administration.

Elon Musk himself will pay about $11 billion in federal taxes more than anyone has ever paid which is due to exercising tens of billions worth of stock options that had been set to expire but Tesla will pay about $0 in taxes even though it reported $5.5 billion in net income for 2021 and $7.5 billion for adjusted income.

Democratic senators such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden have received fierce oppositions from Musk majorly for their proposed stand to tax America’s richest wealth; not just their income.

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