California hasn't had a lot of good economic news lately. So one would have thought that last week's news that Toyota would partner with the electric car company Tesla and revive a Bay Area auto plant that was recently shuttered would be a moment for pure joy.
Instead, it has occasioned doubts and anger.
Why? Two reasons. First, experts in electronic vehicles can't figure the deal out. Why, specifically, did Toyota do it? Electric vehicles are a dicey business proposition. And Toyota has its own auto engineers, so why does it need to partner with Tesla?
There's a nagging suspicion in the coverage that there's less here than meets the eye -- and that Toyota, for a relatively cheap price (its investment is Tesla is chump change for Toyota -- $50 million) gets a badly needed public relations boost after all its recent troubles. Is this real? Or is something going on here?
And the anger? In Southern California, the city of Downey (which gave the world McDonald's and Karen Carpenter) thought it had a deal with Tesla to be the site of its production facility. The city fathers were angry. They had been negotiating lease language with the electric car company, as described here.