Billionaire Tesla owner Elon Musk says American employees attempt to avoid going to work while their Chinese counterparts burn the “3 a.m. oil.”
In a far-reaching interview with Financial Times this week, the entrepreneur heaped praise on the Chinese work ethic. Because of its “super-talented and hardworking population,” Musk said some very strong companies will be produced there.
His comments praising Chinese workers came after acknowledging advances Volkswagen made in the electric vehicle sector. The world’s richest person then added that Tesla’s primary competition will likely be from China, where the company has a major new facility.
After declaring that China, the world’s largest car market, has people strongly committed to manufacturing, Musk made the comparison. Noting that workers there are committed to the point where they won’t even leave the factory if necessary, he contrasted the difference with U.S. workers.
Notably, Musk made no mention of American rivals Rivian or Lucid.
Because of the nation’s zero-Covid policy and widespread breakouts, workers in Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory 3 plant have solidly stepped up. Late March’s complete shutdown by Communist authorities was followed by being allowed to reopen in a “closed loop system.”
Workers must live on-site and be tested regularly. This avoids a complete shutdown of manufacturing, and though the facility is reportedly nowhere near its normal production schedule, new EVs are still rolling out for delivery.
Prior to the lockdown, the facility had three shifts for seven days per week. Under the emergency system, employees are now working 12-hour shifts with one day off each week. This is hardly unique to Tesla as many Shanghai industries and financial firms adopted the practice.
Musk also said he expects the Chinese lockdowns to ease in the coming days. The billionaire’s own work ethic is legendary, and during troubled times at Tesla less than five years the CEO took to sleeping on the factory floor to keep his concentration on righting the ship.
It is easy to admire a work ethic demonstrated during turbulent times, whether in China, the U.S., or anywhere else. Despite the concerns of the Elizabeth Warrens of the world who only measure success by how much they can tax it, most people know it’s the key to meaningful progress.