New York CNN Business  — 

President Joe Biden loves electric vehicles.

He wants half of all new US cars sold by 2030 to be EVs. He proposed a series of incentives to help make that happen – including tax credits for buyers and government support for charging stations.

But he’s showed little love for Tesla, an American company and by far the largest EV maker in the world.

And Tesla CEO Elon Musk hasn’t been shy about taking shots at Biden.

There is a legitimate question as to why Biden has been mostly silent about Tesla when promoting the benefits of electric vehicles. And that can likely be summed up in three letters: UAW.

The United Auto Workers union has broad concerns about what the industry-wide shift to EVs will mean for members’ jobs, because electric vehicles have far fewer moving parts and require less labor to assemble. Ford estimates it takes about 30% less labor to make an EV than make a traditional car.

Much of the value of EVs comes from the battery packs. So far, the unionized automakers have set up joint ventures to build battery plants, rather than build them at their own factories. It’s not clear if those battery factories will wind up being unionized.

But the UAW has so far voiced support for the EV efforts of their pro-union ally Biden. UAW President Ray Curry attended an EV summit at the White House along with the CEOs of General Motors, Ford (F) and Stellantis in August — a meeting to which Musk was not invited.

Keeping his allies in the UAW supportive of the switch to EVs would be much more difficult if Biden was seen as a cheerleader for a nonunion automaker like Tesla.

When asked if the lack of union representation was the reason Tesla was missing even though the CEOs of automakers with a fraction of Tesla’s EV sales were included, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki didn’t dispute that interpretation.

“Well, these are the three largest employers of the United Auto Workers, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusion,” she said.

The UAW declined to comment for this story.

Musk vs the UAW

Tesla remains staunchly nonunion, and Musk is as opposed to organized labor as any CEO in the industry. The National Labor Relations Board has ruled against him on several occasions. The UAW has made little progress in its efforts to organize at Tesla, and Musk has repeatedly taunted the union and its supporters.

“New UAW slogan: ‘Fighting for their right to steal money from workers!’” he tweeted in November.

In October, he said the relationship between the UAW and Biden is the main reason Tesla has not received any support from the otherwise pro-EV administration.

“Biden is a UAW sock puppet,” Musk tweeted.

Musk vs. Biden’s EV plans

The Build Back Better legislation, which is on life support in Congress, has all types of goodies to encourage consumers to buy EVs. That includes an enhanced tax credit for EV buyers, and would give an extra large credit for those who buy EVs built in the United States by unionized labor — as well as government support for a network of charging stations.

But Tesla would benefit less from those perks than the other EV makers, and Musk has said he doesn’t support those programs.

When Biden had the CEOs of GM and Ford back to the White House last month to confer about EVs and Build Back Better, Musk was again not invited, a snub that sparked more Twitter attacks.

So did a tweet from Biden’s official account that showed the president with GM CEO Mary Barra and quoted him saying, “I meant it when I said the future was going to be made right here in America. Companies like GM and Ford are building more electric vehicles here at home than ever before.”

Biden made the statement even though Ford and GM build only a fraction of the EVs Tesla produces in California.

A White House official said it was Musk’s lack of support for the EV provisions in the Build Back Better legislation — not Tesla’s non-union status — that kept Musk from appearing at the meeting.

“The recent event at the White House was for business leaders that support BBB to talk about how it is good for the economy,” the official said.

Asked about Biden conspicuously not mentioning Tesla when talking about EVs, the official said, “Tesla has done extraordinary things for electric vehicles and that’s a big part of why the whole industry now knows EVs are the future. Tesla also benefited greatly from past EV tax credits, but unfortunately, their CEO has suggested an opposition to new EV tax credits.”

But the White House did not shy away from the union issue.

“We are going to continue fighting for legislation to expand access and create high-quality jobs building EVs,” the official said. “President Biden is focused on creating good union jobs across the country and believes firmly that every worker in every state must have a free and fair choice to join a union and the right to bargain collectively with their employer.”

Other reasons Musk doesn’t like Biden

But it’s not just a difference over EV incentives that has Musk mad at the Biden administration. He’s also made clear that he opposes Biden administration proposals to raise taxes on America’s wealthiest Americans as well as establishing a minimum tax on profitable US companies, such as Tesla, which faces little in the way of federal income tax due to past losses.

Musk apparently will end up with a record $11 billion tax bill for 2021 due to exercising tens of billions worth of stock options that had been set to expire. But in other years the world’s richest person is able to avoid paying any taxes because his reportable income is close to zero even if his holdings are worth hundreds of billions.

And he’s made it clear that he opposes Democratic proposals that would change, though he’s directed most of his fire on the issue at Democratic senators such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden, who have proposed taxing the richest American’s wealth, not just their income.

Musk also made clear that he questions government mandates meant to combat Covid-19 measures, calling the stay-at-home orders early in the pandemic “fascist” and at times questioning the health risk posed by Covid.

While Biden has clearly said he wishes to avoid a return to stay at home orders, he has advocated government rules and action meant to combat the pandemic.

– CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report