Elon Musk mulls potential purchases of idled GM plants


Staff/wire report

LORDSTOWN

Elon Musk, Tesla Inc. chief executive officer, told CBS’s “60 Minutes” he may be willing to buy some of the five factories General Motors will idle next year, various news outlets are reporting.

This possible job-creating move, reported by Bloomberg, Fox, CNet and Electrek, comes as GM takes political heat for cutting workers.

Musk made the statements in an interview with Leslie Stahl that will air Sunday. CBS released excerpts Friday.

With Tesla in the midst of ramping up production of its flagship Model 3 sedan, Musk told “60 Minutes” his firm would consider acquiring one of GM’s facilities.

“It’s possible that we would be interested, if they were going to sell a plant or not use it, that we would take it over,” Musk said during the appearance.

While the idea of a big player like GM trying to take bigger steps in electrification might rankle some small automakers, Musk isn’t bothered.

“The whole point of Tesla is to accelerate the advent of electric vehicles,” Musk said to Stahl. “If somebody comes and makes a better electric car than Tesla and it’s so much better than ours that we can’t sell our cars and we go bankrupt, I still think that’s a good thing for the world.”

The opening of a Tesla operation in a former GM plant would be little solace to UAW workers, as Musk’s company has been quick to shut down any organizing attempts by employees at his plants.

In May, UAW filed a complaint against Musk, alleging he threatened to illegally take away the benefits of workers in Fremont, Calif., who chose to join the union.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for further comment regarding the GM plants.

Tesla makes the all-electric Model S, Model X and Model 3.

It wouldn’t be the first time Tesla has purchased another car company’s shuttered factory. Musk’s firm previously bought a plant jointly owned by General Motors and Toyota for $42 million in 2010, electric-car blog Electrek reported. The plant is now one of Tesla’s main production facilities.

GM announced Nov. 26 that five plants in North America, including the GM Lordstown Assembly Plant, would be idled beginning in March, resulting in the loss of the 1,500 workers currently employed by the facility.

GM CEO Mary Barra said the restructuring plan will save the venerable automaker $4.5 billion by 2020. Facing criticism on Capitol Hill, Barra said GM would keep an “open mind” about the future of an Ohio-based plant, Reuters reported.

Barra was in Washington this week meeting with members of Congress about her plans to close five factories in North America and lay off 14,700 workers at the same time she announced production of a new Blazer in Mexico. She is under pressure to keep some of the American facilities opened.

While Barra was speaking with legislators, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it will reopen one of its idle engine plants in Detroit and build a new Jeep, intensifying the irritation in Congress over GM’s plan to cut jobs.

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