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Musk scrapped Supercharger team after its boss said no to further layoffs

The billionaire said in an email to staff on April 29 that he was disbanding the entire team behind Tesla’s charging infrastructure, according to The Information. Musk has since reversed that decision and rehired some workers, according to Bloomberg.

Musk had a one-on-one meeting with Supercharger chief Rebecca Tinucci the day before sending the email, Reuters reported, citing four people familiar with the matter.

According to the outlet, Musk fired Tinucci’s entire team because she didn’t want to lay off more employees. Tinucci had already laid off about 15 to 20 percent of his team before meeting with Musk, according to Reuters.

Representatives for Tesla, Musk and Tinucci did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Last month, Musk announced Tesla’s first round of mass layoffs for the year, informing staff in a memo that he was laying off more than 10% of employees. Tesla employed more than 140,000 people before the layoffs.

The widespread job cuts come as the company struggles with poor sales and increased competition from Chinese automakers like BYD.

At one point, Musk considered cutting 20% ​​of Tesla’s workforce to match the most recent reduction in quarterly vehicle deliveries, Bloomberg reported on April 21, citing a person familiar with the matter.

When Musk announced the dissolution of the Supercharger team last month, he added that he would begin asking Tesla executives who are retaining “more than three people who clearly don’t pass the excellent, necessary, and trustworthy test.” to resign, according to an email obtained by The Information. .

“I hope these actions make it clear that we must be absolutely uncompromising on reducing headcount and costs,” Musk wrote.

But this “hard core” decision led to immediate problems.

Major automakers that have adopted Tesla’s charging technology, such as General Motors, Ford and Mercedes Benz, have been left hanging with the sudden elimination of the Supercharger division.

that of Tesla investors and partners also criticized the sudden decision, upset by the company’s radio silence following the dismissal of the Supercharger team.

“There’s no one left from the team we worked with. In terms of formal communication from Tesla, we haven’t received anything,” Aaron Luque, CEO of EnviroSpark, which installs Tesla chargers, told BI.

The negative reaction that followed may have been crucial in changing Musk’s mind. The Tesla chief moved quickly to allay concerns and assured investors that Tesla’s Supercharger network wasn’t going anywhere.

“Tesla still plans to grow the Supercharger network, but at a slower pace for new sites and with a greater focus on 100% availability and expansion of existing sites,” he wrote in a statement . Message on April 30.

Musk’s turnaround may also have been influenced by Tesla’s commitments to the US government.

The company won nearly 13% of all electric vehicle charging awards awarded by President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, Politico reported in February, citing data it reviewed. A slowdown in the deployment of Tesla’s charging infrastructure would therefore be a setback for Biden’s clean energy agenda.

“Just to reiterate: Tesla will spend well over $500 million to expand our Supercharger network to create thousands of NEW chargers this year,” Musk said in a statement. Message Friday.

Tesla representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BI sent outside of normal business hours.


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