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

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

“Neither Tesla nor I asked for these tariffs,” Musk said during a question and answer session at the VivaTech conference Wednesday in Paris. “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 Thursday. “I’m in favor of no tariffs.”

It’s a change of tune for Musk, who 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.

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