Behind the Mass Firing of Tesla Staff

News Desk1 week ago

They thought Musk would confirm plans for a big charging network expansion after Tinucci had laid off between 15% and 20% of employees two weeks prior as part of far larger layoffs.

It was impossible for the conference to go worse. The workers reported that Musk wants further layoffs and was not happy with Tinucci’s presentation. He responded by dismissing her and her whole 500-person staff when she objected, claiming that further cuts would jeopardize the foundations of the charging business.

The exits have upended a network that is commonly seen as a hallmark achievement of Tesla and a major factor in the company’s EV sales. According to government figures, Tesla Superchargers make up over 60% of all high-speed charging ports in the United States. The company has also benefited greatly from $5 billion in federal financing allocated for the purchase of new chargers.

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This narrative, which is the most thorough to date on the Supercharger firings and the aftermath, is based on correspondence between Tesla and outside suppliers, eight former charging division employees, and one contractor. The four persons that are aware of the meeting are merely repeating what Supercharger department bosses told them about it; only Musk and Tinucci were present at the meeting that was reported to Reuters.

Remarks from Reuters were not returned by Tesla, Musk, or Tinucci.

Musk has since tweeted on social media, promising to keep growing the network in spite of the mass firings. However, three former members of the charging team told Reuters that they have been receiving calls from suppliers, contractors, and electricity utilities, some of which have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure and equipment to assist.

A letter sent earlier this month by a Tesla global-supply manager to Supercharger contractors and suppliers instructed them to “please hold on breaking ground on any newly awarded construction projects” and halt materials purchases, according to a copy reviewed by Reuters. “I understand that this period of change may be challenging, and that patience is not easy when expecting to be paid!”

Tesla’s energy team, which sells solar and battery-storage products for homes and businesses, was tasked with taking over Superchargers and calling some partners to close out ongoing charger-construction projects, said three of the former Tesla employees.

A building contractor claimed that Tesla employees had contacted his business since they “didn’t know a thing” about the layoffs. Though the contractor now intends to diversify to avoid depending too much on Tesla, he had anticipated that Supercharger projects will account for around 20% of his revenue in 2024.

Tinucci was among the few female executives at Tesla with a high position. Four former Supercharger team employees claim that she just began reporting directly to Musk, following the resignation of battery and energy chief Drew Baglino. They said that Baglino had always managed the charging division with little input from Musk.

The firings of the charging team represent the most recent upheaval in a turbulent year for Tesla, during which Elon Musk has halted or postponed a number of key initiatives intended to fuel the sharp increase in EV sales that investors had anticipated.

The company posted its first decline in auto sales since 2020 in the first quarter amid fierce competition from Chinese electric-vehicle makers and sagging worldwide EV demand. Reuters reported in April that Tesla had scrapped plans for a long-awaited affordable car known as the Model 2. That has thrown into doubt Tesla’s plans for new factories in Mexico and India, where Musk had been expected to travel last month to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, before canceling at the last minute. And a host of executives have departed amid deep companywide layoffs.

In 2012, Tesla debuted its first Supercharger locations across California. Elon Musk referred to the network as a “game changer” for electric vehicles (EVs), saying it would allow long-distance driving and convenience “equivalent to gasoline cars.”

The EV-charging industry has long been seen by analysts as unprofitable due to its high upfront costs. However, four former Tesla employees who are familiar with the division’s financial performance claim that the network had been profitable prior to the layoffs.


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