The tale of Tesla’s beleaguered Model 3 production ramp has taken a turn for the bizarre. According to a pair of all-hands emails sent by Elon Musk on Sunday night and Monday morning, Model 3 production has been damaged and sabotaged. The email, which was sent to CNBC and has been confirmed as genuine by multiple employees within different Tesla divisions, claims that one Tesla employee launched multiple attacks against Tesla as a whole.
In the first email, Musk writes that he was dismayed to learn about a Tesla employee who had attacked the company on multiple fronts. He states: “This included making direct code changes to the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System under false usernames and exporting large amounts of highly sensitive Tesla data to unknown third parties.”
According to Musk, the disgruntled employee took these actions after failing to receive a hoped-for promotion. Needless to say, the company feels vindicated in that choice. Tesla has been under fire for several weeks for several reasons — Musk had a high-profile meltdown on his company’s last conference call and opted to deploy unusual contractor evaluation and performance reviews. A brake problem discovered during Model 3 reviews (since patched) and the recent announcement that the company would cut 5,000 positions in another round of layoffs intended to cut costs has kept the company spinning from event to event, all while attempting to ramp up Model 3 production to 5,000 vehicles per week.
Musk is leaving no stone unturned in his search for the saboteur’s likely motivation.
As you know, there are a long list of organizations that want Tesla to die. These include Wall Street short-sellers, who have already lost billions of dollars and stand to lose a lot more. Then there are the oil & gas companies, the wealthiest industry in the world — they don’t love the idea of Tesla advancing the progress of solar power & electric cars. Don’t want to blow your mind, but rumor has it that those companies are sometimes not super nice. Then there are the multitude of big gas/diesel car company competitors. If they’re willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they’re willing to cheat in other ways?
Most of the time, when there is theft of goods, leaking of confidential information, dereliction of duty or outright sabotage, the reason really is something simple like wanting to get back at someone within the company or at the company as a whole. Occasionally, it is much more serious.
Musk clearly isn’t quite sold on the idea that the company’s saboteur might be causing trouble for his own amusement. In the second email, sent Monday June 18 at 9:40 AM, he writes that another small fire occurred on the “body-in-white production line.” Line production was stopped for several hours as a result.
“Could just be a random event,” Musk writes, “but as Andy Grove said, ‘Only the paranoid survive.'” Tesla’s production line has reportedly suffered far more fires than is typical for a manufacturer, though the company has also denied that these events occurred or that it under-reported its accident rates.
The Tesla Model 3 saga continues. All we’re practically missing at this point is the thrilling plot twist in which the disgruntled employee is revealed to be Elon Musk’s child from the future.
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