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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When Hertz announced last week that it had ordered 100,000 electric vehicles from Tesla, both companies saw their share prices soar. Tesla even topped $1 trillion in market value.

Fast forward: The companies are now bickering over whether or not they signed a deal, sending shares lower.

The initial salvo came on Monday night from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, via a tweet: "...I’d like to emphasize that no contract has been signed yet. Tesla has far more demand than production, therefore we will only sell cars to Hertz for the same margin as to consumers. Hertz deal has zero effect on our economics."

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Hertz replied on Tuesday morning with a statement: "As we announced last week, Hertz has made an initial order of 100,000 Tesla electric vehicles and is investing in new EV charging infrastructure across the company's global operations. Deliveries of the Teslas already have started. We are seeing very strong early demand for Teslas in our rental fleet, which reflects market demand for Tesla vehicles."

  • When Axios followed up on how to square Hertz's statement with Musk's tweet, the spokesperson replied: "We can only speak for Hertz, and we remain on plan with what we announced last week."

Our thought bubble: The SEC needs to get to the bottom of what was or wasn't signed, as these are two public companies that made conflicting public statements about their businesses.

  • Musk is clearly trying to argue that the Hertz deal isn't financially material to Tesla, but it clearly moved the stock; and he let it remain unchallenged for an entire week. If the SEC doesn't act, expect that some shareholder lawyers will.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 11, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Global race intensifies for EV raw materials

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A bunch of new developments highlights a wider trend: intensifying efforts by governments and corporations to secure key minerals needed for electric cars and other clean energy tech.

Driving the news: Tesla and Talon Metals announced a deal on Monday to supply the electric automaker with at least 75,000 metric tons of nickel concentrates from Talon's planned mine in Minnesota. The Star Tribune has details.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

The latest: The president called Doocy Monday evening, the reporter told Fox's Sean Hannity. "He cleared the air and I appreciated it. We had a nice call," Doocy said when asked whether the president apologized, adding: "I don't need anyone to apologize to me."