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Tesla just got snubbed by Biden's electric vehicle summit

Joining Biden will be executives from General Motors (GM), Ford (F) and Stellantis, the company formed by the merger earlier this year of Fiat Chrysler and France's PSA. But electric vehicles are only a sliver of these companies' US sales — 1.5% for GM and 1.3% for Ford so far this year, while Stellantis doesn't sell any pure EVs for sale on US soil yet.
Meanwhile, Tesla (TSLA) makes nothing but battery electric vehicles, and always has. And why wouldn't the world's biggest maker of EVs be invited to the table?

"Yeah, seems odd that Tesla wasn't invited," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a tweet overnight.

The White House declined to comment on the reason for the snub.

One potential reason: The United Auto Workers union will also be at the ceremony. The UAW represents workers at GM, Ford and Stellantis, but has been battling, so far unsuccessfully, to organize Tesla workers at its US plant in Fremont, California.

"Today, the three largest employers of the UAW and the UAW president will stand with President Biden as he announces his ambitious new target to make half of all vehicles sold in the U.S. zero-emissions in 2030," a White House official said. "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."

The three automakers issued a joint statement early Thursday announcing their "shared aspiration" for plug-in vehicles to comprise 40% to 50% of their sales by 2030. But that total would include plug-in hybrids that also have a gasoline-powered engines.

While the White House official would not comment on whether the lack of a union at Tesla was a factor in its missing invitation, the Biden administration's previous statements about promoting greater use of EVs spoke about their importance in creating "good-paying, union jobs."

Asked about Tesla's absence at the event during an interview on CNBC Thursday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg claimed ignorance.

"I'm not sure," he said. "What I know is ... you've got newer companies and you've got the legacy companies both saying we have to move in this direction."

UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said he was not aware that Tesla was not invited to the event when asked about it by CNN.

Volkswagen (VLKAF), which has surpassed Tesla in EV sales in Europe so far this year, is due to start building an EV for the US market at its Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant in 2022. But the UAW has twice failed to win union representation votes at that plant. It also will not be represented at the White House event.

While Tesla has opened up a second assembly line in Shanghai, that is serving Asian and European sales, not its US sales. It has two plants under construction, one near Austin, Texas, another near Berlin, Germany.

For now, the Teslas sold in the United States are made in its Fremont plant, and they are far more domestically sourced than the Chev Bolt, which gets about three-quarters of its content, including its expensive batteries, from South Korea, according to a US government report. GM is building US battery factories with partners that will increase its domestic content in the future.

The Teslas already have 50% to 55% of their content from US factories, according to the same government report. The domestic content of the Mach-E, which only came out late last year, is not yet available.

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