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Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he favors ‘no tariffs’ on Chinese EVs


Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla and SpaceX and owner of X Holdings Corp., speaks at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel,on May 6, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. 

Apu Gomes | Getty Images

PARIS— Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that he doesn’t support President Biden’s recent announcement of a tariff on Chinese-made electric vehicles.

“Neither Tesla nor I asked for these tariffs,” Musk said in response to a question from CNBC’s Karen Tso during a question and answer session at the VivaTech conference here on Thursday. “In fact, I was surprised when they were announced.”

The Biden administration last week said it was placing a 100% tariff on Chinese-made electric vehicle imports to the U.S. in a bid to stop cheap Chinese EVs from flooding the U.S. market. The White House says Beijing’s subsidies are helping companies overproduce cheap clean energy products like solar panels and EVs that outpace domestic demand.

Tesla has been struggling this year due to an aging fleet of EVs, weaker consumer demand for its vehicles and increased global competition, most notably in China. Revenue slumped in the first quarter by the most since 2012, and the stock price is down almost 30% in 2024.

“Tesla competes quite well in the market in China with no tariffs and no deferential support,” Musk said on Thursday. “I’m in favor of no tariffs.”

Musk added that he doesn’t agree with tax incentives for EVs, either.

“I’m in favor of no tariffs and no incentives for electric vehicles, or for oil and gas,” the Tesla CEO said.

Musk’s remarks Thursday come after he suggested earlier this year that Chinese EV companies will crush competitors elsewhere in the absence of trade restrictions.

“Frankly, I think, if there are not trade barriers established, they will pretty much demolish most other companies in the world,” Musk said on the company’s earnings call in January.

Earlier, when asked for his views on whether Biden’s 100% tariffs would give him to the green light to bring a lower-priced car to market, Musk’s line cut out and the audience were left for several minutes waiting for him to come back online.

Some attendees left the dome where the Q&A session was being livestreamed.

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