US /

Behind Mass Tesla Firings: Musk's Temper Tantrum

Some members of the Supercharger team have been rehired
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2024 8:58 AM CDT
After 'Tantrum' Firings, Tesla's Musk Appears to Backtrack
A vehicle charges at a Tesla Supercharger station in Detroit, Nov. 16, 2022.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

It's no wonder the 500 employees of Tesla's Supercharger team were blindsided by their firing last week. According to Reuters, they had been expecting CEO Elon Musk to approve a massive charging-network expansion when he met with Rebecca Tinucci, chief of the Tesla's electric-vehicle charging division and one of the company's few female executives. "The meeting could not have gone worse," per Reuters, which spoke with eight former division employees and a contractor to piece together what it says is the most detailed account of the firings to date. Sources say Tinucci had laid off up to 20% of staff just two weeks before the meeting, which workers believed that would satisfy Musk's demand for cuts.

Musk instead called for more layoffs, and when Tinucci pushed back, he fired the entire team, the six-year company veteran Tinucci included, per Reuters. As Quartz sees it, this "wasn't a business decision or a shift in strategy" but "simply Musk getting mad at someone for pushing back on what he was asking for and punishing the entire team as part of his tantrum." The employees were stunned. Their belief in expansion hadn't been blind optimism. Even since the firings, Musk has vowed to continue to expand Tesla's Supercharger network, "just at a slower pace." One estimate suggests "a 77% decrease in the number of Superchargers that Tesla was planning to build in 2024," per Quartz.

Tesla's global supply manager recently told contractors and suppliers to hold off on any new construction projects, per Reuters. Tesla has also canceled four planned Supercharger sites in New York. But if Tesla intends to shift its focus to self-driving cars, as Reuters reports, it's a bewildering move. Its Supercharger network, including 2,000 US charging stations, is its "crown jewel," per Ars Technica. While it accounts for only about 5% of revenues, "that percent is poised to grow" through deals with car companies to allow their customers to plug in, making "Musk's dismissal of the entire team responsible so hard to fathom." Perhaps he's realized a wrong move. According to Bloomberg, Musk is now rehiring some of the fired staff. (More Tesla stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.