New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, has accused Tesla, the electric carmaker he once said he would never buy, of being “the enemy of the very people we are elected to represent”.
“I am shocked and saddened by this latest attack on Tesla, which is not just a loss for our city but a loss to the entire electric vehicle industry,” de Blasio said in a statement on Thursday.
“The American people deserve better than this.
I’m outraged by the assault on the American people, and I will fight it with every ounce of strength.”
De Blasio’s comments come after a spate of Tesla incidents, including one in which a man was arrested after a Tesla owner refused to give him his keys.
Tesla, which has seen record profits since the election, has faced criticism from both Democrats and Republicans over the past few years over safety, including claims that its electric cars pose a health risk to drivers.
Tesla has been forced to temporarily halt operations in some states due to safety concerns.
In a statement, Tesla said the company would be working with regulators to “improve our safety record”.
“We will continue to make changes to address safety issues that we believe need to be addressed,” the statement said.
“While we’re not in a position to comment on specific investigations, we are committed to working with authorities to address any potential safety concerns.”
DeBlasio is also reportedly planning to unveil his own energy policy in a speech on Thursday, in which he will accuse Tesla of “bribing” local governments to support its electric car business.
“They’re paying the electric utilities to make sure they get the electric cars that they want and the utilities get the electricity,” he will say.
“You’re going to see some very interesting changes in your electric vehicle system, where we’re going from a power-hungry, fuel-guzzling car to a low-emissions car that uses a lot less fuel.”‘
The people are being cheated’Tesla CEO Elon Musk, seen here at a press conference on Thursday in Los Angeles, said he was “sickened” by what he described as “a criminal act”.
“The people have been cheated,” Musk told CNBC in an interview that aired on Thursday evening.
“I’m sickened by this kind of behavior and I think it’s wrong.
It is antithetical to our core values.”
De Blasio has been outspoken in his criticism of Tesla, and on Thursday tweeted that he had “no plans” to join a company boycott, a move that would require an immediate change in the company’s business practices.
De Blasso also tweeted that the New York mayor was a “liar” and that his comments were “irresponsible”.
“He knows he’s been caught,” Musk said.
“He knows it’s illegal, but he thinks he can do it in the most innocent way possible.
And he does it.”
A spokesman for Tesla said Tesla’s “policy is to work closely with authorities” to address potential safety issues and that the company was “committed to addressing any potential issues that might arise”.
“As soon as the matter is brought to our attention, we will work with the relevant authorities to ensure that our vehicles are safe and operate safely,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman added that the mayor’s comments were made “in an attempt to show his ignorance of the law and the safety concerns surrounding our vehicles”.
Tesla has faced an onslaught of criticism in recent months, with some members of the public accusing it of deliberately misusing its vast power to create a monopoly on electric cars.
Tesla was founded in 2002 and has seen unprecedented success, with sales of its vehicles doubling between 2006 and 2011.
In the past year, it has announced plans to increase its fleet by 30 per cent and ramp up production to 100,000 vehicles per year by 2021.
De Blasio, who is expected to win re-election in November, has said he will launch an independent investigation into the safety of the electric vehicle companies vehicles.
Tesla announced in January that it would cease operations in New York state due to concerns over safety.
Tesla’s US chief executive Elon Musk told reporters in February that New York is “going to be one of the safest cities in the world”.
“When you see that number go down, then you can’t afford to have the people who are driving these cars,” Musk added.
“We’re going on an all-out war to make the cars safer.”