February 29, 2024

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Thursday he doesn’t know why Elon Musk’s Tesla, by far the biggest electric vehicle name, won’t appear in the White House when President Joe Biden takes new steps to support cleaner cars and trucks.

“I’m not sure,” Buttigieg said when asked on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” why Tesla was snubbed by the event that Biden is expected to sign an order setting a national target for half of all new cars and trucks should be electric or emission-free by 2030.

Other US auto giants Ford and GM, as well as Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, and the United Auto Workers union are due to stand alongside Biden at the event at 3 p.m. ET.

But Tesla – which is non-unionized and has resisted organizing efforts – has never heard of the union-friendly White House Biden.

So says Musk himself, who tweeted overnight: “Yeah, it seems strange that Tesla wasn’t invited.”

When asked about that tweet, Buttigieg said he hadn’t seen it and then quickly shifted his focus from Tesla.

“We’re excited about all the momentum to ensure that Americans can drive electric vehicles in the future,” said Buttigieg.

“And by the way, we are also moving towards a future in which all of this is on the market. I don’t want this to be just some kind of luxury thing, or for this to be just for cars that “drive through cities,” said the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

A White House official, asked about Tesla’s absence, told CNBC: “We naturally applaud the efforts of all automakers recognizing the potential of an electric future and supporting efforts that will help meet President Biden’s goal.”

“And we’re excited to see the support and goals not just from the three automakers that will be here today, but from all of the automakers who see that potential,” the official said.

The Biden government is expected to announce a proposal to increase federal fuel economy and emissions standards by model year 2026. These proposed standards are subject to a public comment period and final approval.

The former Trump administration had spoken out strongly against tightening fuel efficiency standards and challenged California because of an agreement with some automakers to reduce emissions.

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