Exclusive: Tesla’s Musk meets with Biden’s top EV officials in Washington

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Tesla (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk met with two top White House officials in Washington on Friday to discuss the automaker and Democratic President Joe Biden. How Biden could work together to advance EV production and accelerate electrification or the US vehicle network.

The White House said Musk met with John Podesta, a Democratic stalwart who serves as Biden’s top adviser on clean energy innovation, and Mitch Landryu, who oversees infrastructure spending. The billionaire and Biden have frequently sparred over political and labor issues.

“John Podesta and Mitch Landrieu met with Elon Musk to discuss shared goals around electrification and how a bipartisan infrastructure law and inflation-reduction bill could advance electric vehicle production and charging and the cause of electrification more broadly,” a White House spokesman told Reuters. .

Musk responded to the initial Reuters scoop on Twitter, saying he had met with officials, calling it “true.”

Later, White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre confirmed that the meeting had taken place, adding that Musk did not meet with Biden in person. She said the meeting demonstrated Biden’s commitment to electric vehicles, as well as the importance he placed on infrastructure and inflation-reducing laws passed last year.

“I think it’s important that his (Biden) team and senior members of his team meet with Elon Musk today to do that.”

A Reuters witness on Friday saw Podesta, Landryu and Musk enter a downtown building that houses both Tesla’s lobbying arm in Washington and the one Podesta founded. Center for American Progress, a think tank. Landrieu and Podesta left after about half an hour without answering questions.

Musk left about 45 minutes after Podesta and Land stayed. He also ignored questions from Reuters reporters.

Musk also met Friday with Republican Representatives James Comer and Jim Jordan, the chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. On Thursday, he met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and briefly greeted House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries.

Biden, Musk Tensions

The relationship between Biden, who has pushed companies to use union labor, and Musk, who has pushed to keep unions out of factories, often seems to be at odds.

Last year, Musk called Biden a “humanoid wet sock puppet” after Biden highlighted electric vehicle production at GM and Ford in a tweet while ignoring Tesla.

It took Biden more than a year in office to publicly acknowledge Tesla’s role in U.S. electric-vehicle manufacturing, following repeated complaints from Musk that he was being ignored.

In June, after the billionaire expressed reservations about the economy, Biden compared Tesla unfavorably to Ford and sarcastically wished Musk “good luck” on his “moon trip.”

Still, Musk has longstanding and important relationships with the U.S. government that continue under the Biden administration.

Tesla has benefited from tax subsidies for buyers of its electric cars, while Musk’s rocket company SpaceX has signed multibillion-dollar contracts to ferry astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station and build lunar landers.

U.S. consumers who bought a Tesla were again eligible this month for a sales tax credit of up to $7,500 under the $430 billion U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed last August. A previous tax credit for Tesla buyers expired after the automaker sold its first 200,000 vehicles in the United States.

Electric vehicles required by law to qualify for the tax credit must be North American-made. There are also caps on the vehicle price and income of buyers eligible for the credit.

The law also sets new restrictions on battery purchases, which are expected to come into force in March. It also includes new U.S. battery production credits, which Musk said earlier this week could provide significant benefits to the company.

Reporting by Nandita Bose, David Shepardson and Raphael Satter; Editing by Heather Timmons, David Gregorio and Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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