Billionaire entrepreneur, Elon Musk, was recently asked to perform a role in the Trump administration as a technology advisor, along with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The meeting that took place yesterday was, purportedly, not part of his official capacity as an advisor, but rather as a leading figure in the manufacturing industry. The meeting also included the heads of major corporations such as Ford, Johnson & Johnson, Whirlpool and Lockheed Martin amongst others.
Trump spoke to Musk about the future of manufacturing in the US and how to encourage businesses to flourish with the carrot and the stick method. The carrot would be cutting business regulations, although it wasn’t entirely clear what regulations would be scrapped, and the stick was a tax hike in imported goods. This has been an important mainstay in Trump’s pre-election manifesto. It is hoped that the deregulation will boost American industry and make American goods desirable again, whilst the tax increase will scare of anyone trying to get goods elsewhere.
“We’re going to be cutting regulation massively. Now, we’re going to have regulation, and it’ll be just as strong and just as good and just as protective of the people as the regulation we have right now. The problem with the regulation that we have right now is that you can’t do anything. … I have people that tell me that they have more people working on regulations than they have doing product.” – President Donald Trump.
It makes perfect sense for Tesla to be happy with the new strategy, as they have spent years fighting against industry regulations that limit the productivity of their operations within the auto industry. It also falls into line with the Tesla strategy of building everything ‘in-house’ as they have made clear when building the Gigafactory. The aim was to build a battery production plant in Nevada, where they roll in raw materials and roll out finished goods. Musk was reported to have also spoken about his other investments in Solar City and SpaceX which were given vocal support by the President.
“When somebody wants to put up a factory, it’s going to be expedited. And you have to go through the process, but it’s going to be expedited. And we’re going to take care of the environment, we’re going to take care of safety, and all of the other things we’re going to take care of. But you’re going to get such great service. There will be no country that going to be faster, better, more fair, and at the same time protecting the people of the country.” – President Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump likes Elon Musk. Whilst Musk was not a Trump supporter during the pre-election jousting, and even told an interviewer that he felt Trump was possibly the wrong man for the job, Musk just wants what is best for the environment and his companies’ ambitions to make the world a better place. If he has to cozy up to a President that he doesn’t necessarily agree with in order to meet those ambitions, he is pragmatic enough to see beyond the personal differences. Musk is also rather appealing to the White House, given that he is a billionaire immigrant who came from very little and made a fortune in Silicon Valley. He also has lofty ambitions and hires lots of workers to help him achieve those goals, which is something that Trump likes to hear about. Oh, and Musk is extremely popular as well, both amongst Tesla fans, Space fans and even environmentalists who appreciate his ambitions and contributions.
Elon Musk also has an ace up his sleeve which hasn’t gone unnoticed by the White House; SpaceX. SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to reach Mars, with or without the assistance of NASA and whilst the Trump administration is still debating how to proceed with NASA and space policy in general, SpaceX represents a rare opportunity for the government to back a private company to achieve international goals, and get the credit for it obviously.