If there’s any love lost between California Gov. Gavin Newsom and billionaire tech CEO Elon Musk, they sure didn’t let it show on Wednesday.
The two were all smiles and banter outside the former Hewlett-Packard offices in Silicon Valley, where Tesla announced it will open its engineering headquarters.
“I couldn’t be more proud of California’s commitment to support Tesla over the course of the last few decades,” the governor said. “It’s a point of pride, always has been for me, that Tesla is a California company, started here first.”
The appearance was meant to promote California’s commitment to electric vehicle initiatives and its robust economy, but it also highlighted Newsom’s long-standing relationship with the polarizing billionaire, which appears to be alive and well despite Tesla relocating some of its operations to Texas, ignoring the state’s pandemic orders, and Musk nearly running another Silicon Valley giant, Twitter, into the ground.
Newsom says his relationship with Musk goes back “decades,” but the two have engaged in some light public sparring in recent years. Musk in 2021 derided California as “the land of sort of overregulation, overlitigation, overtaxation.” The governor in September suggested Tesla wouldn’t even exist without California’s incentives.
But none of that was brought up on Wednesday. Musk cheerfully noted that Newsom was “one of the first to buy a Tesla Roadster back in the day” — noting he would have had to put down $100,000 to reserve one in 2007. That also means Newsom would have been one of the first Californians to buy an electric vehicle. According to data from the state’s energy commission, only 112 zero-emission vehicles had been sold by 2010.
“That was a healthy deposit you had to make,” Newsom said, joking he made the purchase “back when I had money.”
“That was a lot of money in 2007,” Musk said.
“It’s still a lot of money,” Newsom replied. “Trust me, brother, you haven’t looked at my salary … We had about the same net worth back then, 20 years ago.”
The governor, who receives a state salary of $224,020, reported at least $1.6 million in income, assets and investments for 2021. Newsom founded a lucrative wine and hospitality business in 1992, but moved the Plumpjack Group assets to a blind trust upon taking office in 2018.
His office didn’t respond to a question about how many Tesla vehicles he owns, but a 2018 profile in The New Yorker makes mention of three Teslas in his driveway.
By the end of 2022, a total of about 1.4 million ZEVs had been sold in the state, including 346,000 sold last year for nearly 19 percent of the new vehicle market. California has a goal of propelling electric vehicle sales to 100 percent of the new car market by 2035.
Jeremy B. White contributed to this report.
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