Joe Biden

Pete Buttigieg Says He Doesn't Know Why Elon Musk's Tesla Wasn't Invited to Biden's Clean-Car Showcase

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he doesn't know why Elon Musk's Tesla won't appear at President Joe Biden's clean-car event at the White House on Thursday.
  • Leaders of U.S. auto giants Ford and GM, as well as Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, and the United Auto Workers union are slated to stand alongside Biden at the event.
  • But Tesla never heard from the White House about it, according to Musk himself, who tweeted overnight, "Yeah, seems odd that Tesla wasn't invited."

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Thursday he doesn't know why Elon Musk's Tesla, by far the biggest name in electric vehicles, won't appear at the White House when President Joe Biden takes new steps in support of clean cars and trucks.

"I'm not sure," Buttigieg said when asked on CNBC's "Squawk Box" why Tesla wasn't invited to the event, where Biden is expected to sign an executive order setting a national goal for half of all new cars and trucks to be electric or zero-emission by 2030.

Leaders of U.S. auto giants Ford and GM, as well as Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, and the United Auto Workers union are slated to stand alongside Biden at the 3 p.m. ET event.

But Tesla — which is not unionized and has resisted efforts to organize — never heard from the pro-union Biden White House about it.

That's according to Musk himself, who tweeted overnight, "Yeah, seems odd that Tesla wasn't invited."

Asked about that tweet, Buttigieg said he had not seen it and then quickly shifted his focus away from Tesla.

"We're excited about all of the momentum for making sure that Americans can drive electric vehicles going into the future," Buttigieg said.

"And by the way, we're also moving toward a future where this is all across the market. I don't want there to be a perception that this is just a kind of luxury thing, or that this is just for cars that you use to zip around cities," said the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

A White House official, asked about Tesla's absence, told CNBC, "We of course welcome the efforts of all automakers who recognize the potential of an electric future and support efforts that will help reach President Biden's goal."

"And we're excited to see the support and goals not just from the three automakers who will be here today, but all automakers who realize this potential," the official said.

The Biden administration is expected to announce a proposal to beef up federal fuel economy and emissions standards through the 2026 model year. Those proposed standards are subject to a public comment period and final approval.

The Trump administration had strongly opposed strengthening fuel efficiency standards and had challenged California over a deal it struck with some carmakers to reduce emissions.

This is developing news. Please check back for updates.

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