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Biden acknowledges Tesla’s EV leadership despite Musk’s criticisms


President Joe Biden publicly acknowledged Tesla for the first time in his presidency on Tuesday, noting the company’s status as the nation’s largest producer of electric vehicles.

Biden’s mention of Tesla came during a speech to promote American companies expanding the nation’s EV infrastructure. It was sandwiched between shout-outs to legacy automakers General Motors and Ford Motor, as well as smaller EV companies Rivian Automotive and Proterra.

Biden had avoided mentioning the company so far as president, a decision White House aides say is driven by his perception that Tesla is anti-union.

The mention also comes after Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has spent months heavily criticizing, even trolling, the president and other elected officials in the Democratic party on Twitter and during press interviews.

Tesla vehicles at charging stations at a dealership in Rocklin, California, U.S., on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Musk has taken umbrage with Biden’s pro-union and infrastructure spending plans, as well as his apparent indifference to Musk, his companies and Tesla’s leadership in electric vehicle manufacturing and charging infrastructure.

Musk’s comments have ranged from calling Biden a “damp sock puppet in human form,” to accusing the president of being “controlled by unions.”

That swipe came after the Biden administration proposed an EV incentive package that allocated additional money for consumers who purchased electric vehicles, but only if the vehicles were built by unionized workers.

Musk has also voiced displeasure about Tesla not being invited to the White House to discuss electric vehicles alongside others such as GM and Ford.

Tesla’s supporters even launched a social media and outdoor advertising campaign to pressure the president to give a nod to Tesla or Musk.

Alongside Tesla and others, Biden also praised fast charging equipment manufacturer Tritium on Tuesday for establishing a new manufacturing facility in Tennessee. And he praised Intel for its plans to build a major semiconductor chip factory in Ohio.

“Those semiconductors, microchips power virtually everything in our everyday lives. Cellphones, automobiles, refrigerators, the internet, the electric grid. Without semiconductors those things cannot fully function,” he noted.

Increased domestic production of chips in the U.S., Biden said, would enable more manufacturing here and help ease inflation.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

“One of the reasons automobiles cost so much is—they’re responsible for one-fifth of the recent inflation — is because they lack semiconductors,” said Biden. “They’re not able to build ’em quick enough, so the price goes up higher because there’s fewer to sell.”

Then Biden named Tesla as an example of a company that has invested in American manufacturing.

“Since 2021, companies have announced investments totaling more than $200 billion in domestic manufacturing here in America. From iconic companies like GM…


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