A chart shared by Elon Musk on Twitter, highlighting that Tesla charging at the company’s … [+]
Rich people are driving again.
Well, at least those who can afford Teslas.
Elon Musk tweeted last night that U.S. and Canadian Supercharger usage is approaching normal levels and tracking to exceed pre-Covid highs in two to three weeks. The Supercharger network is Tesla’s owned high-speed charging stations around the globe.
“North American Supercharger usage tracking to exceed pre Covid highs in two to three weeks,” Musk tweeted. “Lot of noise out there. This is signal.”
Interestingly, Asia Pacific countries have already exceeded normal levels, as has China. And EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) is not far behind North America.
The most interesting part of this?
It’s a reversal of early Covid-19 trends.
2013 Getty Images
In March and May, white collar workers stayed home while blue collar workers were forced to go in to work. White collar workers and knowledge workers used laptops and Zoom and Slack and email to de-link their jobs from their locations: a major benefit compared to those who have to physically be present to complete their job responsibilities.
And, let’s be honest, highly-paid white collar workers are more likely to be buying and driving Teslas, which start close to $40,000 and can cost over $100,000.
In May, 67% of white collar workers were working remotely from their homes, which was up from just under 60% in March. That’s basically seven out of ten, and correlates well with the almost 65% of fewer daily charge sessions Musk’s chart reveals.
But now, Supercharger usage is only down about 15% from the 2020 high in February.
This is potentially critical for the economy. As The NY Times reported a week ago, the biggest challenge currently is that the rich have cut their consumer spending by 20-35%. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to be spending close to what you were pre-Covid-19. But the top 25% of earners have cut their spending the most.
And that’s a major challenge for an economy in recession.
Musk’s news about Supercharger usage might just be a leading indicator that consumer spending by the wealthy is trending up as well.
But it does come at a cost: We’re now seeing record cases across the U.S. as Coronavirus cases spike in at least 19 states, and hospital utilization rates are approaching 100%. There are currently 9.8 million Covid-19 cases globally, with almost 500,000 deaths. The U.S. now accounts for 2.5 million cases and almost 130,000 deaths.
Elon Musk has been a prominent proponent of reopening, and Tesla controversially reopened its Fremont plant in mid-May.