Speed Reads


Could Elon Musk's unlikely bromance with President Trump save solar?

President Trump has nominated the former chief executive of ExxonMobil for secretary of state, dismissed climate change as a hoax, and created pervasive concerns in the clean energy industry about the future of federal subsidies. Yet, shares of electric automaker Tesla, which recently merged with solar energy panel manufacturer SolarCity, have soared since Trump took office. This week, The New York Times reported, Tesla closed "within striking distance of a record high."

That may all be thanks to Tesla and SolarCity founder Elon Musk's strategic relationship with Trump. Musk hasn't always been a fan of Trump — he once said Trump was "not the right guy" to be president — but Musk now seems set on making a bromance bloom, and Trump isn't disinterested:

The president-elect invited Mr. Musk to Trump Tower in December as part of a group of technology executives and named him to his strategic and policy forum of business leaders.

And Mr. Musk was with a group of manufacturing executives at a White House meeting this week at which, according to a participant, he broached the subject of a carbon tax. Surprisingly, Mr. Trump didn't reject it out of hand.

For his part, Mr. Musk this week endorsed Rex W. Tillerson, a pillar of the fossil fuel establishment as chief executive of ExxonMobil, for secretary of state. [The New York Times]

The relationship isn't totally out of left field, said Adam Jonas, an automotive analyst at Morgan Stanley who recently upgraded Tesla stock to "overweight." "When you look at the businesses Tesla is in, you see many areas of overlapping interest," Jonas told The New York Times. "To the extent the new administration prioritizes the creation of valuable, innovative high tech, and manufacturing jobs, Tesla stands at the epicenter of that." Trump's interest in jobs creation might be the leverage Musk needs to save federal subsidies.

Already, solar investors' concerns are starting to abate. But can a bromance really save the day? "I want to believe that Trump won't kill solar," said alternative energy analyst Andrew Hughes. "But there's still a lot of uncertainty."

For more on the story, head over to The New York Times.