Tesla is going through a critical phase in its existence at the moment. You can count that quarters that the company has reported a profit in its decade of existence on one hand; it has come under attack for Autopilot crashes (including some that resulted in death); and recently, a spontaneously combusting Model S made headlines.
We have to keep in mind that all of this is going on as Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company would be laying off 9 percent of its workforce right in the middle of Model 3 “production hell”. That sure is a lot of negative news for one company, but Musk seemingly has a partial explanation: sabotage.
In an internal email sent to employees on Sunday, Musk was fired up about what he called “extensive and damaging sabotage” that was carried out by a Tesla employee. According to Musk, the employee admitted to the sabotage, alleging that he was passed over for a promotion, which fueled his anger.
Amazing work by Tesla team. Built entire new general assembly line in 3 weeks w minimal resources. Love u guys so much! Pic of 1st Model 3 dual motor performance coming off the line … pic.twitter.com/Xr55P3fmGd
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 16, 2018
“The full extent of his actions are not yet clear, but what he has admitted to so far is pretty bad,” said Musk. “In light of these actions, not promoting him was definitely the right move.”
Musk goes on to add that Model 3 production is ramping to 5,000 vehicles per week, and that employees will have to be “extremely vigilant” in looking out for any nefarious activity. “This is when outside forces have the strongest motivation to stop us.”
Elon Musk talks about Model 3 “production hell” in an April interview
While outright sabotage — which was actually admitted by the perpetrator — is bad enough, Tesla faced another setback on Sunday night after Musk’s original email was sent. A fire broke out at Tesla’s sprawling vehicle assembly plant which forced the vehicle production line to shut down for several hours — a setback which Musk had just warned about. While Musk expressed relief that no workers were injured in the incident, he ratcheted up the fear factor in a follow-up email to employees.
“Could just be a random event, but as Andy Grove said, ‘Only the paranoid survive.’ Please be on the alert for anything that’s not in the best interests of our company.”
Tesla has a lot on its plate and Musk has definitely made a lot of promises that he hasn’t been able to keep, or quoted production schedules that he hasn’t been able to adhere to. Throwing sabotage into the mix doesn’t make matters any easier for the company.