Eccentric Tesla head Elon Musk has downplayed the coronavirus pandemic, telling his staff that they were more likely to die in a car crash than from the virus, which now has spread to more than 142,000 people globally and resulted in more than 3000 deaths.
In a tweet last week, Musk – whose tweeting has gotten him into hot water before – wrote the that the panic around the virus is ‘dumb’, despite governments all around the world taking drastic action to try and smooth out the infection rate from the influenza-like illness.
The coronavirus panic is dumb— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 6, 2020
Musk wrote to the employees of SpaceX, according to US reports, suggesting that the deaths from the virus are occurring in groups that are already susceptible to lung diseases.
“As a basis for comparison, the risk of death from C19 is *vastly* less than the risk of death from driving your car home,” Musk, whose Teslas are equipped with what the company calls a bioweapon defence mode, wrote to SpaceX employees. “There are about 36 thousand automotive deaths per deaths [sic], as compared to 36 so far this year for C19.”
He also urged employees to take care of themselves and to stay home if they felt ill.
Fear is the mind-killer— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 15, 2020
Here in Australia, the coronavirus claimed the Australian Grand Prix over the weekend, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison has imposed self-isolation for all arriving travellers into Australia, threatening fines for non-compliance.
New vehicle launches to local media are also being curtailed, with many industry staff instructed to work from home where possible. International trips will be impacted by the self-isolation requirement upon return.
In the wider car industry, Ferrari and Lamborghini have both shut down their Italian factories with the country in lockdown, while unions and General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have formed a task group in the US to work towards a cleaner work environment for factory workers.
The car companies have also instructed their salaried staff to work from home.
Disruption to large-scale events like car shows and industry conventions is likely to continue after the cancellation of Geneva, with the New York Auto Show shifted to August, while the Detroit show – moved from its usual January date to June – appears to be unaffected.
The damage to the motor racing industry locally and overseas will be immense, too, with the wide-scale cancellation of most forms of motorsport.