Biden Touts Musk’s Tesla Charger Network in Rare Moment of Praise

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
February 16, 2023Business News
Biden Touts Musk’s Tesla Charger Network in Rare Moment of Praise
SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Award 2020 in Berlin, Germany on Dec. 1, 2020. (Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden offered some relatively rare praise for Elon Musk, as Musk made part of the Tesla vehicle charging network available to some other electric vehicle brands.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced several different electric vehicle makers and rental car brands are planning to expand access to vehicle charging stations. The White House also announced that Musk’s Tesla had agreed, for the first time, to make at least 7,500 chargers available to all electric vehicles by the end of 2024.

“In building our EV charging network, we have to ensure that as many chargers work for as many drivers as possible. To that end, @elonmusk will open a big part of @Tesla’s network up to all drivers. That’s a big deal, and it’ll make a big difference,” Biden tweeted on Wednesday.

Musk responded by tweeting, “Thank you, Tesla is happy to support other EVs via our Supercharger network.”

Biden has not tweeted specific praises for the other brands that are expanding their electric vehicle charging services, such as Ford, General Motors, and Mercedes Benz.

The brief, friendly, exchange is a small respite in a relationship that has seen the billionaire tech mogul refer to the president as a “damp sock puppet,” and Biden has hinted at launching investigations over Musk’s Twitter acquisition.

Electric vehicles are an area where Biden’s energy policies and Musk’s business interests align. Biden wants to move the United States away from the fossil fuel industry and gas-powered vehicles and toward clean energy and electric vehicles.

The White House said plans by Tesla and other electric vehicle makers to expand their charging networks “are evidence of the President’s successful industrial strategy, ensuring that federal funds are attracting private investment to ensure the clean energy transition is powered by American manufacturing and good-paying union jobs.”

Complicated Relationship

While Biden offered specific praise for Musk’s Tesla brand, it remains to be seen if this will mark the start of warming relations between the two.

In the past, Biden has repeatedly praised GM and Ford for their role in expanding the electric vehicle market, while appearing to snub Tesla’s contributions on that front.

According to the Washington Post, Tesla’s decision to make parts of its charging network available to other electric vehicles came about “after intense lobbying from the Biden administration.”

Politics and Musk’s Twitter Takeover

The strain in the relationship goes beyond Biden snubbing Tesla and Musk insulting the president.

Musk has waded into political debates in recent months. In July, Musk said Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis “would easily” win a 2024 race against Biden and DeSantis “doesn’t even need to campaign.”

The day before the 2022 midterm elections, Musk urged Americans to vote in Republicans as a counterbalance to Biden’s presidency. Two days later, Biden said Musk’s acquisition of Twitter could become the subject of a government investigation to see “whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate.” Biden said there are a “lot of ways” this could be done, but did not provide further details.

Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has raised further political strains for Biden. Musk has reinstated the suspended Twitter accounts of numerous Republican and conservative figures, including Biden’s 2020 rival, Donald Trump.

After acquiring Twitter and the platform’s records of internal moderation actions, Musk began releasing tranches of internal communications known as the “Twitter Files.” The first round of reporting on the files alleged that the Biden campaign routinely called upon the social media platform to suppress or remove content they disapproved.

Rounds of “Twitter Files” have also fueled new scrutiny of Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings, indicating Twitter officials doubted their stated reasons for suppressing reporting about Hunter Biden before the 2020 election and were conditioned by current and former FBI officials to view such reporting with increased scrutiny. Republican lawmakers have increasingly sought investigations of Biden’s involvement in his family’s foreign business dealings.

Other rounds of “Twitter Files” have more broadly implicated actions and inactions by the platform that harmed conservatives.

Democrats, such as Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), have argued that Twitter has the right to moderate content at its own discretion as a private company and people who have accused the platform of past wrongdoing are “professional conspiracy theorists who are heckling and haranguing this private company.”
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