— Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, calls a Los Angeles Times article about his use of government subsidies “misleading and deceptive.” In a phone interview Monday on CNBC’s “Power Lunch, ” Musk took issue with the LAT’s reporting that Musk has built his “empire” — Tesla, SolarCity (where he’s chairman) and SpaceX — from $4.9 billion in government subsidies. He calls incentives “helpful” but not necessary, and “catalysts” that can help projects along.
The LAT notes that its $4.9 billion figure includes “a variety of government incentives, including grants, tax breaks, factory construction, discounted loans and environmental credits that Tesla can sell. It also includes tax credits and rebates to buyers of solar panels and electric cars.” The paper does mention that Musk and others have put private capital into the companies, but one of the paper’s main assertions is that “Musk and his companies’ investors enjoy most of the financial upside of the government support, while taxpayers shoulder the cost.”
Musk says the article doesn’t provide enough context. For example, he said that the more than billion in tax incentives for the Gigafactory that’s being built in Nevada kick in only if certain goals are met. (The LAT describes “hardball negotiations” during Nevada’s quest to land the Gigafactory, a long process we wrote about on SiliconBeat.) Musk also pointed out that Tesla didn’t invent California’s zero-emission vehicle credits — they were established years ago.
The LAT also talked with CNBC: Deputy Business Editor Brian Thevenot reportedly said on the “Closing Bell” show that the story “paints a picture that I think Elon Musk would agree with, that his business strategy is to incubate high-risk, high-tech companies that promote green technology with the help of billions of dollars of government money.”
Did someone say green? Musk also mentioned that “the incentives that Tesla and SolarCity receive are a tiny, tiny, pittance compared to what the oil and gas industry receives every year.”
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