New York, Berlin Tesla-CEO Elon Musk is always good for surprises. He shows it now: “The coronavirus panic is stupid,” wrote the 48-year-old on March 6th. While California’s companies closed the doors, Musk defiantly continued to produce.
Just two weeks later, he changed his mind. Now he is profiling himself as the savior of the hour. He has 1255 ResMed ventilators, Philips and Medtronic bought in China and shipped to Los Angeles. Now he offers them to the hospitals.
“If you want to get a free ventilator installed, let me know,” Musk tweets. He has also donated 250,000 respirators from his factories to hospitals.
The entrepreneur teases with his ideas, he is used to that. With its startups Zip2 and Paypal he messed up the phone book manufacturers and the banks, with Tesla he made the car industry uneasy. With SpaceX, he demonstrated the NASA.
The South African-born Musk, who studied engineering in Canada, attributes his success to Aristotle’s “First Principles”. It is about getting to the bottom of problems and rejecting solutions that others simply copy.
But these days he behaves exactly like this: he copies the behavior of others. And that even though he tweeted a week ago, panic would “do more damage than the virus”.
Cries for help from all over America
In the meantime, Musk – like the bosses of the major US auto companies – has stopped production at its main plant in Freemont. Similar to GM-Chefin Mary Barra and Ford boss Jim Hackett has now also offered to manufacture ventilators: “They are not difficult, but they cannot be produced immediately,” Musk explains on Twitter and asks which clinics need the devices most.
The reason for his change of heart was the widespread criticism and the calls for help online. Doctors like Dr. Little from Florida asked on Twitter “Switch off Elon”.
The Mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, pleaded with Musk on Twitter: “@elonmjusk New York City is shopping! Our country is facing a drastic shortage and we need ventilators as soon as possible – we will need thousands. We try to get it as soon as possible, but we can use your help! ”
In Germany, many are wondering what the corona crisis means for the new Tesla plant in Grünheide in Brandenburg, where Tesla plans to build half a million electric vehicles a year from next year.
Brandenburg’s Ministry of Economics does not believe that the planned factory is at risk. “We are still very optimistic,” a ministry spokeswoman told the Handelsblatt. In addition, there are “no negative signals from Tesla”.
According to the spokeswoman, despite the restrictions resulting from the crisis, work is currently underway on the Tesla site. The fact that a public hearing of 373 objections to the project has recently been postponed indefinitely due to the corona pandemic does not represent a real hurdle. “The objections and statements are currently being processed by the licensing authority,” a spokeswoman for the State Environment Ministry said on request.
A building permit can only be issued at the end of the environmental approval process. However, Tesla can start construction at its own risk before issuing a permit and would have to restore the old state if the green light fails to appear.
Will Musk personally lay the foundation stone? He leaves this question unanswered for the time being because he knows that it is the pandemic that is currently dictating the schedule. In the coming weeks, electric cars will take a back seat in Musk’s life – ventilators and respirators will become important.
More: GM, Ford and Tesla are checking to see if they produce medical devices. German corporations are not that far yet. But there are unconventional Corona aids.