Jun 9, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Tesla says air quality jumps from coronavirus lockdowns make case for electric vehicles

Photo of a Tesla sign.

Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Tesla is hailing the air quality benefits of less pollution from internal combustion engine vehicles during the lockdowns, calling it a temporary glimpse of what's possible in the long term, Bloomberg reports.

The intrigue: CEO Elon Musk has railed against stay-at-home orders, even calling them "fascist," and has also battled local officials as he sought to re-open the company's plant in Fremont, California.

What they're saying: The company's annual impact report points out "dramatic" increases in air quality and carbon emissions cuts worldwide.

  • It notes that while these cuts won't be sustained, there's an "unprecedented opportunity to learn from this disruption and accelerate the deployment of clean energy solutions" as part of economic recoveries.
  • “It is not hard to imagine that many cities could become electric-only in the near future as they begin to witness the impact that internal combustion engine vehicles have on air quality," it states.

The big picture: Dissonance with Musk's comments aside, Tesla is hardly the only company making some version of these points.

  • There's a global movement afoot — with limited success so far — to stitch clean energy investments into government stimulus packages in response to the pandemic.

Worth noting: Tesla's stock ended the day at almost $950-per-share Monday, a record closing price.

  • The stock rose after China Passenger Car Association reported that sales of Tesla's Model 3 were over 11,000 in May, more than tripling April's levels, per Fortune and other outlets.
  • It signals China's importance for the growth of electric vehicles as the world's largest auto market and a place with strong government backing for the sector. Tesla's factory there began deliveries at the end of 2019.
  • Wedbush Securities’ analyst Daniel Ives said in a note, "We believe that the China growth story is worth $300 per share to Tesla as this [electric vehicle] penetration is set to ramp significantly over the next 12 to 18 months in a more normalized backdrop," per CNBC.

Go deeper: Side effect of a pandemic: A brief glimpse at cleaner skies and water

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