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Tesla CEO Musk Refuses to Commit to Cheaper Electric Vehicles

These translations are done via Google Translate

The billionaire said it was difficult for him to answer questions that are ‘of such a significant nature’

Bloomberg News

Tesla Inc. chief executive Elon Musk doesn’t want to talk about whether he’s committed to bringing a low-cost electric vehicle to market, or the carmaker’s rough last few months.

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The CEO largely avoided questions on the topics during a remote appearance Thursday at the VivaTech conference in Paris. He gave one reporter an indirect answer, then cut off a second journalist because he dislikes her publication.

When asked if U.S. President Joe Biden’s tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles are the green light Tesla needs to bring a cheaper EV to market, Musk initially said that it was difficult for him to answer questions about a publicly traded company that are “of such a significant nature.”

After his live-video feed cut out for several minutes, Musk returned and said he didn’t think the subject would be of interest to the audience. Then, he said Tesla’s product planning and the Biden administration’s trade policies are separate issues.

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“Neither Tesla nor I asked for these tariffs. In fact, I was surprised when they were announced,” Musk said. “In general, I’m in favour of no tariffs. I’m also actually in favour of no tax incentives for EVs, but provided that the tax incentives for oil and gas must also be eliminated.”

Musk later cut off the second reporter as she began to ask him about Tesla’s flagging sales and declining stock price.

“We can stop the question right now, because I don’t think Business Insider is a real publication,” he said. “So let’s move on to the next question.”

Tesla shares have slumped almost 30 per cent this year, driven by disappointing sales and concerns that Musk is prioritizing development of autonomous vehicles over the company’s core car business.

Musk’s comment that he was surprised by Biden’s tariffs seems to contradict an answer he gave during a Tesla earnings call in January, when an analyst asked him about Chinese carmakers expanding into western markets.

“They will have significant success outside of China, depending on what kind of tariffs or trade barriers are established,” Musk said during the Jan. 24 call. “Frankly, I think if there are not trade barriers established, they will pretty much demolish most other car companies in the world.”

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