PARIS, May 24 — Tesla founder Elon Musk told tech investors in Paris yesterday he opposed US tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), an about-face from his January warning that trade barriers were needed or China would “demolish most other car companies in the world.”

Yesterday, Musk said he did not favour measures that distorted the market.

This month, US President Joe Biden rolled out new tariffs on an array of Chinese imports, including EVs, seeking to support American manufacturing.

The Biden administration has maintained a number of tariffs introduced by former President Donald Trump, while ratcheting up others, including quadrupling EV duties to more than 100 per cent. The White House said the new measures affect US$18 billion in imported Chinese goods.


“Neither Tesla nor I asked for these tariffs, in fact I was surprised when they were announced. Things that inhibit freedom of exchange or distort the market are not good,” Musk said at the Viva Technology conference in Paris via video link.

“Tesla competes quite well in the market in China with no tariffs and no deferential support. I’m in favour of no tariffs,” Musk said.

In January, Musk warned Chinese automakers would “demolish” global competitors without trade barriers.


“If there are no trade barriers established, they will pretty much demolish most other car companies in the world,” Musk said in a post-earnings analyst call at the start of the year.

Leading tech executives and political figures such as ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former US climate envoy John Kerry took to the stage this year at the annual VivaTech conference.

Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of Musk-owned social media platform X, is expected to participate in-person today for a panel discussion on the future of content. — Reuters