Elon Musk says Tesla would consider buying idled GM plants

Tesla would consider buying the factories General Motors said it intends to idle, CEO Elon Musk said in an interview that aired on “60 Minutes” Sunday night.

“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,” he said.

GM’s decision to cut production at several plants and eliminate 14,000 jobs has caused anger and worry among lawmakers, labor leaders and people in the regions that depend on the factories for work.

Some say GM’s decision is a necessary step to ensure the company’s future as it grapples with changing consumer tastes, new technologies and new potential competitors, including Tesla.

Tesla has had its own struggles ramping up production of its much hyped Model 3 mid-size sedan. The company resorted to building a second assembly line inside a tent-like structure next to its main assembly plant in Fremont, California. The decision, like many Tesla has made, was ridiculed by some in the industry.

The last minute push increased production by 50 percent, Musk told 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl.

“Those betting against the company were right by all conventional standards that we would fail,” he said, “but they just did not count on this unconventional situation of creating a second assembly in the parking lot in a tent.”

Musk also antagonized the Securities and Exchange Commission again, despite recently settling civil fraud charges with the agency on what some considered extremely favorable terms.

Musk said sometimes people make mistakes. The agency sued Musk for allegedly misleading investors in tweeting in August that he was thinking about taking the company private at $420 a share without securing the funding.

“I want to be clear: I do not respect the SEC,” Musk said. “I do not respect them.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Musk had to pay a $20 million fine and step down as Tesla chairman for a period of at least three years. Tesla also put in place a system for monitoring Musk’s statements to the public about the company, whether on Twitter, blog posts or any other medium.

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