Outspoken Tesla chief executive Elon Musk labelled the US’ coronavirus lockdowns as “fascist” as the firm surprised investors with another profitable period of trading despite the current market disruption.
Speaking on a conference call last night, Musk said that the measures posed a serious risk to Tesla’s business and said he did not know when production would restart in California.
Warming to his theme, he went on to say: “To say that they cannot leave their house and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist.
“This is not democratic, this is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom!”
Unlike many of its counterparts in the automotive industry, Tesla managed to make a $16m profit in the first quarter, despite vehicle demand dropping as much as 80 per cent in March.
Despite a survey of analysts forecasting a loss of 36 cents per share, the firm actually made a profit of $1.24 per share for the quarter.
Automotive revenue hit $5.1bn, nearly 7 per cent of which came from regulatory credits, according to the company’s first quarter report.
The credits helped the company fatten its automotive gross margins, which it said were now up to 25.5 per cent.
Tesla said it would revise its full year guidance in three months when it reports its second quarter results.
In contrast, on Tuesday Detroit-based Ford posted a $2bn loss for the first quarter and warned that it expected to lose another $5bn due to the coronavirus.
Although it produces far fewer models than rivals like Ford, Tesla has a far larger stock market value on expectations of vast growth to come.
Tesla shares have risen 91 per cent for the year to date as of last night’s close, despite a slump in March.
Musk has been a dissenting voice throughout the coronavirus crisis. On 6 March, he tweeted that the “coronavirus panic is dumb”, and yesterday called on authorities to “free America now”.