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Tesla to lay off everyone working on Superchargers, new vehicles


Tesla to lay off everyone working on Superchargers, new vehicles
There's more chaos at Tesla this week. The Information reports that last night, the company's erratic CEO Elon Musk emailed workers with news that he has dismissed a key pair of executives—one responsible for the Supercharger network and the other head of new vehicle development.
The electric car maker posted its quarterly results last week, and they paint a poor picture, with shrinking sales and plummeting profit margins. While Tesla once had a strong first-mover advantage and benefited from Musk's marketing savvy, the company has frequently ignored the many hard-learned lessons of the auto industry.
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Customers not turned off by Musk's antics instead are losing interest with a product lineup of two EVs that are ancient in car years (the Models S and X) and two EVs that are merely old (the Models 3 and Y). The Models 3 and Y are also the only two vehicles that Tesla sells in volume. Any other automaker would have a second-generation Model 3 ready to go either this year or next, but at Tesla, the product pipeline is empty.
And yet, Tesla is not just laying off Daniel Ho, director of vehicle programs and new product introduction, but also his entire team.
Even Tesla's harshest critics must concede that the company's Supercharger network is its star asset. Tesla has more fast chargers in operation than anyone else, and this year opened them up to other automakers, which are adopting the J3400 plug standard.
All of which makes the decision to get rid of senior director of EV charging Rebecca Tinucci—along with her entire team—a bit of a head-scratcher. If I were the driver of a non-Tesla EV expecting to get access to Superchargers this year, I'd probably expect this to result in some friction. Musk told workers that Tesla "will continue to build out some new Supercharger locations, where critical, and finish those currently under construction."
Many Tesla fans had been holding out hope that Musk would debut a cheap Model 2 EV in recent weeks. Instead, the tycoon promised that robotaxis would save the business, even as both of its partially automated driver assistance systems face recalls and investigations here in the US and in China.
Delivering on that goal is more than just a technical challenge, and it will require the cooperation and approval of state and federal authorities. However, Musk is also dissolving the company's public policy team in this latest cull.
"Hopefully these actions are making it clear that we need to be absolutely hard-core about headcount and cost reduction. While some on exec staff are taking this seriously, most are not yet doing so," Musk wrote to employees. Musk also told staff that he would ask for the resignation of any executive "who retains more than three people who don't obviously pass the excellent, necessary and trustworthy test."
Earlier this month, Tesla engaged in another round of layoffs that decimated the company and parted ways with longtime executive Drew Baglino, who was responsible for Tesla's battery development.