Tesla's Musk delays release of Roadster, global plant shutdown

By BLOOMBERG | 8 May 2020

SAN FRANCISCO: Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk said in a podcast interview released on Thursday that the company’s planned Roadster sports car would take a backseat to the development of other vehicle models.

Talking with stand-up comic Joe Rogan, the billionaire also doubled down on his critique of stay-at-home orders imposed by US states to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Musk said states’ lockdown orders were “unconstitutional” and would not hold up before the US Supreme Court if challenged. He previously made such remarks during Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call on April 29, calling restrictions “fascist.”

The interview marked Musk’s second appearance on Rogan’s podcast, which is videotaped and published online. Musk became infamous when he smoked a marijuana joint with Rogan during the first interview in September 2018.

When Rogan asked when he could buy a Roadster, Musk responded he could not provide a date, but said other initiatives, including a ramp-up in production of sport utility vehicle Model Y and the construction of a vehicle factory in Berlin, were priorities.

“Roadster is kind of like dessert,” Musk said. “We gotta get the meat and potatoes and greens and stuff.”

Musk also said Tesla should produce the Cybertruck, a futuristic-looking light commercial vehicle, before working on the Roadster.

Tesla announced the Roadster, a battery-powered four-seater, at the end of 2017 and at the time said the car would be faster than any street-legal production car.

Musk in the past has said Roadster sales would begin after a revised version of its Model S sedan is released, which was widely expected to be at the end of 2020.

The two-hour interview focused only in short parts on the virus pandemic and Tesla’s business, with much of the discussion centering around artificial intelligence and another of Musk’s companies called Neuralink, which develops implantable brain-machine interfaces.

Musk told Rogan those devices could be implanted in people within a year, but said he would have a Neuralink implanted in himself only if it actually works.


In a separate development, sources have said that Tesla has suspended production at its plant on the outskirts of Shanghai, bringing to a halt all of the company’s vehicle manufacturing globally.

The electric-car maker informed factory workers who were supposed to return to work Wednesday, after China’s five-day Labour Day break, that their holiday would be extended and they will return as soon as May 9, according to the the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

The reason for the abrupt halt wasn’t immediately clear. Chinese technology news site 36kr reported it was because of component shortages.

While Tesla’s only car factory outside the US is expecting delays in receiving parts for its Model 3, it’s also facing problems with a crucial piece of manufacturing equipment that’s being fixed, according to the people.

The production halt means that Tesla isn’t making any cars worldwide.

Its other vehicle-assembly plant in Fremont, California, has been idled since March 23 due to shutdowns aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus. The shutdown has made the Shanghai factory even more crucial for Tesla because the US is weeks, if not months, behind China in reopening its economy.

Some employees are on site in the China plant for equipment inspection, maintenance and repair, the people said. The plant was temporarily idled earlier this year because of the coronavirus outbreak, but it was also among the first automakers to resume production with assistance from local authorities.