Investors accuse Tesla of ‘carnival barking, market manipulation, insider trading’
Investors accuse Musk of insider trading in a class action lawsuit against Tesla, saying the company’s manipulation of Dogecoin cost them billions of dollars. They argue in a Manhattan federal court that Musk used paid online influencers, deliberately undertook ‘publicity stunts’ like his 2021 appearance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” and more, to trade profitably at their expense through several Dogecoin wallets that he or Tesla controls. They say this included the time Musk sold about $124 million of Dogecoin after he replaced Twitter’s blue bird logo with Dogecoin’s Shiba Inu dog logo, leading to a 30% jump in Dogecoin’s price. The accusations are part of a proposed third amended complaint in the lawsuit which began in June 2022. (Tesla sought a dismissal of the second amended complaint, calling it a “fanciful work of fiction,” and said another amendment was unjustified, but US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said he would “likely” allow the third amended complaint, saying the defendants would not likely be prejudiced.) A “deliberate course of carnival barking, market manipulation and insider trading” enabled Musk to defraud investors, promote himself and his companies, the filing said.
Ford to use Tesla Superchargers
Ford strikes deal with Tesla to allow its electric vehicle owners to gain access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers in North America in early 2024. This makes Ford the first major automaker to embrace Tesla’s proprietary charging standard and gives the company access to the biggest network of high-speed Superchargers in the United States. Tesla will provide an adapter to Ford EVs fitted with the Combined Charging System (CCS), giving them port access to Tesla’s V3 Superchargers. Ford will equip future EVs with Tesla’s own charging standard, removing the need for an adapter for direct access to Tesla Superchargers, starting in 2025. Pricing will be “competitive”. On Twitter Spaces, Musk tells Ford CEO Jim Farley:
The idea is that we don’t want the Tesla supercharger network to be like a walled garden. We want it to be something that is supportive of electrification and sustainable transport in general.
We love the locations, we love the reliability, your routing software, the ease of use of the connector, the reliability of it. Tesla storms through the [Japanese bullet] train station like 300 kilometers per hour Shinkansen. We’re learning a lot.
Farley said earlier at a Morgan Stanley forum that:
[O]n the infrastructure side, I think it’s room for some collaboration between the auto companies, which is totally unnatural for us….the first step is to work together in a way we haven’t, probably with the new EV brands and the traditional old companies…. It seems totally ridiculous that we have an infrastructure problem, and we can’t even agree on what plug to use. I think the first step is to work together in a way we haven’t, probably with the new EV brands and the traditional auto companies. I think you’ll see Ford do that just because that’s what kind of company we are.
Coming soon: More locations to charge your Ford® electric vehicle. Thousands of them. @Tesla https://t.co/FayrARjD3s pic.twitter.com/CtDEcqvdwu
— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) May 25, 2023
Musk: Tesla might ‘open source more code’
Musk says Tesla might open up some of its operating system code to other automakers. Responding to Ford CEO Jim Farley, he says Tesla would:
…be helpful on the software front…In the same way that maybe Android is helpful to the phone industry as sort of a general standard, like we could potentially open source more code.
Musk and Farley also hinted at other potential partnerships in the future, including in the supply chain, and when Farley questioned him about Tesla’s Corpus Christi lithium refining plant, Musk said he does not believe there are enough entrepreneurs in the U.S. digging into raw materials mining and processing. He wishes Tesla didn’t have to pick up the slack. With its nickel-based cathode refinery in Austin, Tesla might also have to get involved in anode manufacturing, but “hopefully not,” Musk says. He also believes that there will be a huge market for synthetic graphite (graphite is the main material in most lithium-ion anodes).
Musk: Tesla will ‘strongly consider’ building Gigafactory in England
In an interview for The Wall Street Journal, Musk says Tesla is preparing to look for a location to build a new battery factory later this year and would assess England as an option.
I will strongly consider England for a future location of a gigafactory. We are not currently looking at new locations but we will probably towards the end of this year.
Tesla already operates several production facilities in Fremont, California, Austin, Texas, Berlin, Germany, and Shanghai, China. A factory in Mexico was announced in early 2023, but ground has not been broken yet.
Tesla brand rating falls 50 spots to 62
Tesla falls 50 spots in the Axios Harris Poll 100, a survey that gauges the reputations of the most notable brands in America. The company is now No. 62 out of 100 companies on the list, putting it in the “good” category. The No. 1 brand in the survey is Patagonia, while the leading car brand is Toyota, in sixth place.
The poll surveyed 16,310 “nationally representative” Americans, asking them which two companies they think have the best reputation and which two have the worst reputation. The answers were then compiled to determine which companies have the most “visibility,” with the top 100 being rated on nine dimensions, including character, trajectory, and trust.
Although Tesla received “excellent” scores in the trajectory, vision, and products and services categories, along with a “very good” score in growth, it earned “fair” scores for character, trust, and citizenship.
Reynolds, Musk trade deepfake ad likes
In response to a deepfake ad of Reynolds promoting Tesla:
How much do you think it would cost to own a car that’s this f–kng awesome?!…Whose balls do I have to fondle to get a Tesla instead of a s–t Corolla?”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 17, 2023
Reynolds, in turn, responds to a deepfake ad featuring Musk promoting his Aviator Gin brand.
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) May 18, 2023
Tesla releases promo video on Twitter
Tesla releases a two-minute Twitter video on its Tesla Asia account (which has only 172,000 followers, compared to its main account’s 21 million) called “Drive to believe.” The ad highlights Tesla’s Autopilot feature, infotainment system, the Tesla app, as well as featuring a Model 3 owner and mother of two children saying she was initially drawn to the vehicle because of its technology, but has grown to appreciate its safety measures as well.
I would say it’s one of the greatest gifts, that my kids can have, in terms of their future.
Drive to believe——why she chose Tesla? ❤️ pic.twitter.com/LXtGl15QUy
— Tesla Asia (@Tesla_Asia) May 19, 2023
Judge: Musk can be subpoenaed through Tesla
A federal judge rules that the U.S. Virgin Islands can serve Musk a subpoena through Tesla, as part of the government’s lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase over its ties to Jeffrey Epstein. The ruling comes after lawyers for the Virgin Islands government said that it had not been able to serve Musk personally with the subpoena, as is the norm. Nor did a Musk lawyer reply to a request to accept the subpoena for his client. The judge authorizes the U.S. Virgin Islands to:
arrange alternative service of its Subpoena to Produce Documents by serving Elon Musk via service upon Tesla Inc.’s registered agent.
Tesla reopens talks with Indian government
Senior Tesla executives visit India, meeting officials from Modi’s office and other ministries to discuss local sourcing of parts and more. The executives propose setting up a factory in India to build electric cars for domestic sale and export, but no location or investment has been specified. Though India previously declined Tesla’s request to lower the import tax on cars (causing earlier talks to end in gridlock), the matter is not being discussed during this visit.
Musk: Tesla will have a ‘ChatGPT moment’ with full self-driving cars
Comparing Tesla’s self-driving AI to OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot, which came to sudden public attention at the end of 2022, Musk says that a similar situation will happen when Teslas are able to drive themselves without human intervention.
I think Tesla will have sort of a ChatGPT moment, maybe if not this year, I’d say no later than next year…Suddenly, three million cars will be able to drive with no-one [at the wheel].
Musk says he envisions a future where millions of Tesla cars would operate autonomously, gradually expanding to three million, five million, and eventually 10 million self-driving vehicles. When owners are not using the vehicles, they will be used as Robotaxis, licenced by Tesla.
Comparing Tesla’s self-driving capabilities to Google’s Waymo, Musk says that while Waymo has achieved limited success in a tightly-mapped geographic area, Tesla has a more advanced and generalized solution. Musk argues that if Microsoft, and Tesla was tasked with producing a large language model akin to ChatGPT, his company would emerge victorious.
Musk: U.S.-China tensions ‘should be a concern for everyone’
Asked if he was concerned about “the growing belligerence” between the U.S. and China, Musk says that people should be concerned about tension between the two nations.
I think that should be a concern for everyone.
Musk believes China wants to take control of Taiwan – a country Tesla depends on for processors.
The official policy of China is that Taiwan should be integrated. One does not need to read between the lines…I think you should take their word seriously.
The Chinese economy and the rest of the global economy are like conjoined twins. It would be like trying to separate conjoined twins. That’s the severity of the situation. And it’s actually worse for a lot of other companies that it is for Tesla. I mean, I’m not sure where you’re going to get an iPhone, for example. There are some constraints on our ability to expand in China, and so we’re making as many cars as we can. It’s not a demand issue.
Musk to personally approve all Tesla hires
Musk tells Tesla employees in an email that he wants to personally approve every new hire at the company (which hires about 30,000 people per year). He says that he wants to get a better understanding of hiring at Tesla.
No one can join Tesla, even as a contractor, until you receive my email approval.
Musk’s SEC ‘muzzle’ appeal rejected
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rejects Musk’s bid to modify or end his 2018 securities fraud settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that requires a Tesla lawyer to approve some of his tweets in advance. (SEC v Musk, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 22-1291.). Musk argued that the SEC exploited his consent decree to conduct bad-faith, harassing investigations that violated his First Amendment free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution. His decree resolved an SEC lawsuit accusing him of defrauding investors with an Aug. 7, 2018, tweet that he had “funding secured” to take his electric car company private. (A San Francisco jury already found Musk not liable for investor losses over the tweet.)
In the appeal, Musk’s lawyers called the pre-approval mandate a “government-imposed muzzle” that amounted to an illegal prior restraint on his speech, but the court says the SEC had opened just two subsequent inquiries into Musk’s tweets, which “plausibly violated” the decree’s terms. The three-judge panel says that the SEC’s inquiries were “limited” and “appropriate,” and “have not made compliance with the consent decree ‘substantially more onerous'” for Musk, who chose to allow screening of his tweets and therefore has no right to revisit the matter “because he has now changed his mind.” Musk lawyer:
We will seek further review and continue to bring attention to the important issue of the government constraint on speech.
China orders Tesla recall
Chinese safety regulators order Tesla to recall 1.1 million vehicles because drivers aren’t able to select the regenerative braking system and there is a lack of warning when they press hard on the accelerator pedal. The State Administration for Market Regulation (a Chinese government organ) says these issues:
may increase the probability of mistakenly stepping on the accelerator pedal for a long time, which may increase the risk of collision and pose a safety hazard.
The recall involves imported Model S, X and 3 models as well as the Chinese-made Models Y and 3. The models were produced between January 12, 2019 and April 24, 2023, though it isn’t clear whether those dates apply only to the Chinese-made vehicles. Tesla will fix the problem with an online software update.
Tesla to ‘cooperate’ with Samsung in IT development
Musk meets for the first time with Jay Y. Lee, Executive Chairman of Samsung Electronics, during Lee’s visit to the United States, to discuss ways Tesla and Samsung can work together in future high-tech industries, such as semiconductors for autonomous vehicles.
Musk breaks ground at Tesla lithium refinery
Joined by Governor Abbott (R), Musk breaks ground at the site of the Tesla’s $375 million lithium refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, after arriving in a Cybertruck with shovels strapped to the sides. Tesla says the facility will help it secure a domestic supply of lithium hydroxide, a key ingredient used to make its batteries. Musk says the availability of battery-grade lithium is a “fundamental chokepoint” for the electric vehicle industry and others. Tesla aims to produce enough battery-grade lithium at the refinery to manufacture one million vehicles per year, and to produce more lithium than the rest of North America’s refining capacity combined there.
Tesla promises it will use an “innovative” process, designed to consume less hazardous reagents, such as hydrochloric acid, and create “beneficial use opportunities” from byproducts, which they expect to be mostly sand and limestone. However, the company did not disclose the specific chemistry it would rely upon for processing. Musk:
There’s no toxic emissions or anything — you could live right in the middle of the refinery and not suffer any ill effects.
Abbott praises Musk as the greatest entrepreneur on Earth, saying:
Texas wants to be able to be self-reliant, not dependent upon any foreign hostile nation for what we need.
Increasing lithium refining capacity is critical to a sustainable energy economy—today, we're breaking ground on our in-house lithium refinery outside of Corpus Christi, TX.
This facility will also prioritize the elimination of a challenging refinery byproduct (sodium sulfate).… pic.twitter.com/mBnDBLNrW7
— Tesla (@Tesla) May 8, 2023
Tesla lawyers: Musk’s statements could be deepfakes
Tesla’s lawyers argue in court filings that some of Musk’s statements about the safety of their autopilot features cannot be trusted, because they could be deepfakes. This includes Musk, saying in a speech in 2016:
A Model S and Model X, at this point, can drive autonomously with greater safety than a person right now.
The lawyers say they don’t know whether Musk really made the statements or not:
At first glance it might seem unusual that Tesla could not admit or deny the authenticity of video and audio recordings purportedly contain statements by Mr. Musk…The reality is he, like many public figures, is the subject of many ‘deepfake’ videos and audio recordings that purport to show him saying and doing things he never actually said or did.
Judge Pennypacker says these arguments are “deeply troubling” and tentatively orders Musk to be interviewed under oath for three hours about whether he made the statements:
Their position is that because Mr. Musk is famous and might be more of a target for deepfakes, his public statements are immune. In other words, Mr. Musk, and others in his position, can simply say whatever they like in the public domain, then hide behind the potential for their recorded statements being a deep fake to avoid taking ownership of what they did actually say and do.
The filings are part of a lawsuit brought against Tesla in 2019, alleging that the autopilot feature was defective, resulting in the death of the car’s owner.
Musk to Yoon: South Korea could get Tesla Gigafactory
Musk meets South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol to discuss building a Tesla factory in South Korea. Yoon wants a Tesla factory there and is visiting the U.S. for six days, so Musk requested the Washington meeting. Citing its high-skilled workers and advanced industrial robots, Yoon said South Korea is a good place for a Tesla “Gigafactory” and Musk told him that the country is a top candidates for one. Yoon also said that if Tesla decides to invest there, he would actively support the company in regards to location, human resources and tax.
Tesla wins Autopilot crash case
After a three-week trial in the Los Angeles Superior Court, a California jury rules in Tesla’s favor in a lawsuit over a crash involving the company’s partially automated driving software. The jury finds that the company’s Autopilot feature did not fail when plaintiff Justine Hsu’s Model S swerved into a curb while the feature was turned on. The jury also found that the vehicle’s airbag performed safely and Tesla did not intentionally fail to disclose facts. Hsu, who had sought more than $3 million in damages, and was awarded none, broke down in tears outside the courtroom after the jury delivered its verdict. One of her attorneys expressed disappointment with the result. Tesla’s attorney declined to comment.
Tesla stock drops nearly 10% over continued price cuts
Tesla stock (TSLA) drops nearly 10%, nearly $50 billion in market capitalisation, after Musk says the electric vehicle manufacturer will keep cutting prices in a bid to drive up demand in a weak economy. Focusing on sales growth rather than immediate profit, Musk said:
We’ve taken a view that pushing for higher volumes and a larger fleet is the right choice here versus a lower volume and a higher margin.
With this drop, Tesla’s market capitalization ending below Meta Platforms’ for the first time since 2021.