Elon Musk has built an empire through innovation in electric cars, solar power and space technology – however a recent Los Angeles Times article called him out for relying on $4.9 billion in government subsidies. On Monday Musk rebutted the article, saying that was “misleading and deceptive to the reader.” Musk said the backing his companies get from state and federal governments represents legitimate business practices – and he called the Times report “inexcusable” and inaccurate. “The article makes it seem as though my company is getting some huge check, which is fundamentally false,” Musk said. “None of the incentives are necessary. They are all helpful.”
According to data compiled by the Los Angeles Times, Musk’s startups have taken advantage of a variety of government incentives over the years, such as: grants, tax breaks, factory construction, discounted loans and environmental tax credits–all of which have helped keep companies like Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX afloat.
The question posed by the Times is, could Musk’s companies survive in the absence of this government money? The Times article notes that Tesla and SolarCity are continuing to report net losses after 10 years of operation, despite the fact that the companies’ stocks have done very well based on the potential of the companies. As for Musk, his stock in those two companies is worth about $10 billion.
Musk declined repeated requests for interview with the Times, but defended himself on CNBC’s Power Lunch show, saying that the government incentives are not necessary to the success of his companies. According to Musk, the incentives are intended to spur a faster rate of innovation because voters “want a particular thing to happen, and want it to happen faster than it would otherwise occur.”