Tesla chief Elon Musk on Saturday threatened to pull his electric car headquarters and plant out of California after local authorities kept him from resuming production due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately," Musk tweeted in a long diatribe, characteristic of past online rants which are not necessarily carried out.
Referring to the California city where the cars are produced, Musk said that "if we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all" it will depend on "how Tesla is treated in the future."
Tesla had hoped to reopen the California factory, its only in the United States, in the beginning of May, but had been prevented by local authorities.
Musk highlighted the company's experience in China, where production of electric cars resumed after the country's COVID-19 epidemic was brought under control.
"Tesla knows far more about what needs to be done to be safe through our Tesla China factory experience than an (unelected) interim junior official," he tweeted, referencing a local-level health officer.
The irascible, outspoken billionaire, who announced the birth of a son with musician Grimes earlier this week, threatened to "immediately" sue Alameda County where the plant is located, accusing its authorities of being "irrational & detached from reality."
Its health officer, he said, had acted contrary "to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!"
Musk made headlines just over a week ago with a different Twitter rant declaring that Tesla's stock was overvalued, which sent the electric carmaker's shares tumbling more than 10 percent.
Several days prior he delivered an expletive-laden diatribe during an earnings call in which he dubbed coronavirus restrictions "fascist."
Tesla managed to post a modest but surprise $16 million in profit during the first quarter, a 33 percent jump in car deliveries and turnover that climbed 32 percent to $5.99 billion.