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 was snubbed from 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.
Other 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.
This is developing news. Please check back for updates.