Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk launched into a mini-tirade about government stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic, calling them "fascist" and "an outrage" on an earnings call Wednesday.

What he said: [T]he extension of the shelter-in-place or, frankly, I would call it, forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional rights — in my opinion — breaking people's freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why people came to America or built this country What the f--k?"

  • "Excuse me. Outrage. It's an outrage. It will cause great harm, not just to Tesla, but to many companies. And while Tesla will weather the storm. there are many small companies that will not. Everything people worked for their entire life are being destroyed in real time."
  • "They should be allowed to stay in the house, and they should not be compelled to leave. But to say that they cannot leave their house, and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist. This is not democratic. This is not freedom."

The big picture: Tesla posted its third straight quarterly profit, on strong sales of its Model 3 and Y, but said business disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic were clouding its outlook for the rest of the year.

Why it matters: It's difficult for any company to forecast the future at this moment, but having raised $2.3 billion in February, Tesla said it has enough liquidity to keep investing in future products and long-term factory expansion.

  • That could give Tesla extra momentum when the crisis finally passes.

Yes, but: There are many uncertainties, and Tesla's success will depend, to a large extent, on factors outside of its control.

  • The most important is the reopening of its Fremont, California, assembly plant, where Model Y production had recently begun alongside Model 3. It is currently idled because of a Bay Area stay-at-home order.
  • Tesla's new Shanghai factory has resumed production after coronavirus disruptions in China, and a new factory is planned for Germany.
  • Tesla said it would delay its Semi truck until 2021. There's no word yet on the fate of its electric Cybertruck pickup.

What they're saying: The timing of the coronavirus couldn’t have been worse for Tesla, as it was launching Model Y and ramping production in China, said Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book.

  • Yes, but: "As brands go, Tesla's is one of the strongest in the automotive industry. And that kind of brand equity is a company’s best defense during economic turmoil," Brauer added.

By the numbers: Tesla's first quarter was better than analysts had expected.

  • The company eked out a $16 million net profit in the first quarter on $5.1 billion in revenue.
  • Its $283 million pre-tax operating income represented a 4.7% operating margin.
  • The company was on track for its strongest quarterly deliveries before the pandemic, so it remains confident after production resumes.
  • "At the same time, we are diligently managing working capital, reducing noncritical spend, and driving productivity improvements. We believe we are well-positioned to manage near-term uncertainty while achieving our long-term plans," Tesla said.

Go deeper: Report: Tesla to cut employees' pay up to 30% and furlough workers

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Aug 7, 2020 - Economy & Business

What we're driving: 2020 Nissan Leaf SL Plus

2020 Nissan Leaf. Photo: Nissan

This week I'm driving the all-electric Nissan Leaf SL Plus, with a sticker price of $46,045.

The big picture: The Leaf has been around since 2010, but has long since been eclipsed by the Tesla Model 3, and other battery powered entries like the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Kia Niro EV and the Hyundai Ioniq.

Deadly Hurricane Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a downed power line electrocuted a 55-year-old in Louisiana as the storm moved into Alabama overnight.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi," it began lashing Alabama late Wednesday, per the National Hurricane Center.

50 mins ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China