Joe Biden has delivered a withering presidential bashing at Elon Musk, wishing the billionaire “much luck on his trip to the Moon”.
It came after the Tesla boss said he had “super bad” feelings about the global economy and announced plans to cut one in ten jobs at Tesla.
Mr Biden said: “While Elon Musk talks about it, Ford is massively increasing investment. I think Ford is increasing investment in building new electric vehicles. Six thousand employees – unionized employees, I might add.”
The US president, speaking in Delaware, went on to tout investments in electric vehicles by Chrysler and in computer chips by Intel.
Mr Biden added: ‘So, you know… lots of luck on his trip to the Moon…’
Mr Musk responded to the jibe on Twitter saying: “Thank you Mr President!”
The billionaire also issued an April NASA press release trumpeting the award of a $2.89billion (£2.3billion) contract to his company, SpaceX, to build the lander lunar for America’s planned return to the Moon later this decade.
Mr. Musk’s ultimate goal, rather than the Moon, is to colonize Mars and make humans a multiplanetary species.
The president’s statement was the latest development in a long-simmering feud. Mr Musk has previously accused Mr Biden’s administration of printing “a million more dollars than it has” and said it “doesn’t seem to be doing much”.
Last month, Mr Musk said he had voted Democrat in the past because “they were (mostly) the party of kindness”, but said he had now become “the party of division and of hatred”.
He announced his intention to vote Republican instead.
On Friday, Mr. Musk ordered Tesla to cut 10% of jobs worldwide.
The electric carmaker’s chief executive also ordered an immediate hiring freeze at Tesla in an email to staff sent on Thursday, which was seen by Reuters.
Inflation in the United States is hovering around 8%, compared to 5% a year ago. The White House said that despite a recent slowdown “inflation is still too high.”
However, on Thursday, the United States reported better-than-expected job growth in May, suggesting businesses remain broadly confident about the economy.
Mr Musk has previously said the US is “probably” in a recession, telling a conference in May: “It will probably be tough for a year, maybe 12 to 18 months.”
US employers added 390,000 jobs last month, less than the 436,000 added in April, but more than economists had expected. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.6%, while the participation rate increased.
The recreation and hospitality sectors, which have struggled to recruit new workers, also saw “notable” gains, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some 100,000 employees are employed by Tesla worldwide, according to its annual regulatory filings, meaning the company could lose about 10,000 positions if the 10% workforce reduction directive is implemented. Tesla’s share price fell 8.5% following Mr Musk’s directive, falling to $708 in afternoon trading from its previous closing price of $775 .
Mr Musk’s directive to cut 10% of staff came after he told Tesla staff that their current work from home was effectively over. He tweeted earlier this week that remote workers “should pretend to work somewhere else.”
Remote work can continue at Tesla, provided staff spend at least 40 hours per week in the office. Some have interpreted this as an unspoken nod to hybrid working, where staff divide their time between working from home and the office.
Tesla’s fortunes became increasingly intertwined with that of Twitter after Mr. Musk announced in April that he would buy the social media site for $54.20 a share.
Yesterday, Twitter said the deadline for US antitrust authorities to formally intervene in the takeover had passed, meaning it was one step closer to completion.
The billionaire said the deal was on hold due to speculation he wanted to cut his price. If the acquisition fails, the Tesla boss still has to pay $1 billion.
The U.S. auto industry shows few signs of slowing, according to Reuters, with auto dealer inventories showing little sign of rising due to tightening consumer spending and postponement of new vehicle purchases.
Tesla currently has around 5,000 vacancies worldwide posted on LinkedIn, including new positions for its recently opened battery factory in Berlin.
Mr. Musk has previously compared Mr. Biden to movie character Ron Burgundy, a mindless newsreader in the cult classic “Anchorman.” He poked fun at the president’s reliance on his teleprompter during public speeches.
Mr Musk also said in May that Democrats were “too union-controlled”.