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Elon Musk Claims Tesla Employee Sabotaged Model 3 Assembly Line

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【Summary】Tesla has been under pressure to ramp up production of the Model 3 electric sedan since the car began rolling off the assembly line last July. It now appears that dissent within the company has led to an employee, or employees, sabotaging Tesla’s assembly line.

Derrick Smith    Jun 18, 2018 6:24 PM PT
Elon Musk Claims Tesla Employee Sabotaged Model 3 Assembly Line

Tesla has been under pressure to ramp up production of the Model 3 electric sedan since the car began rolling off the assembly line last July. It now appears that dissent within the company has led to an employee, or employees, sabotaging Tesla's assembly line. Tesla CEO Elon Musk took out his frustration in a company email obtained by CNBC.

In a rambling and unusual email sent to employees on Sunday, Musk claimed a Tesla employee sabotaged the company's manufacturing operations and also leaked sensitive information to third parties. In addition, CNBC reports that Musk sent another email on Monday suggesting that someone may have intentionally started a small fire on the production line at Tesla's Fremont, California assembly plant.

In the email which appears below, Musk says he was "dismayed to learn this weekend about a Tesla employee who had conducted quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations."

This sabotage, he claims, included changing computer code that affects the company's manufacturing system, and also exporting lots of sensitive data to "unknown third parties."

The email takes an unexpected turn with Musk calling out short selling investors, the oil industry and rival automakers by accusing them of conspiracy against Tesla. Musk wrote that there is a "long list of organizations that want Tesla to die," mentioning "Wall Street short-sellers," as well as "oil & gas companies," and "big gas/diesel car company competitors."

The email ends by asking employees to remain vigilant and to report suspicious activity. CNBC claims that multiple Tesla employees have confirmed the email's authenticity.

It is unknown how the incident will affect production of the Model 3. Musk promised to build 5,000 Model 3's per week beginning in June. Now it looks like a disgruntled employee might have intentionally jeopardized those plans.

In the other email sent to employees today, Musk announced a fire broke out in a part of the assembly line. Musk confirmed a small fire occured on the "body-in-white production line." No one was in the area and there were no injuries or significant equipment damage, but it was enough to stop the body production line for several hours. Musk did not claim the fire was intentionally set, but warned employees to be on the lookout for anything suspicious.

Here is Musk's email to company employees courtesy of CNBC:

From: Elon Musk

To: Everybody

Subject: Some concerning news

June 17, 2018

11:57 p.m.

I was dismayed to learn this weekend about a Tesla employee who had conducted quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations. 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.

The full extent of his actions are not yet clear, but what he has admitted to so far is pretty bad. His stated motivation is that he wanted a promotion that he did not receive. In light of these actions, not promoting him was definitely the right move.

However, there may be considerably more to this situation than meets the eye, so the investigation will continue in depth this week. We need to figure out if he was acting alone or with others at Tesla and if he was working with any outside organizations.

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.

Please be extremely vigilant, particularly over the next few weeks as we ramp up the production rate to 5k/week. This is when outside forces have the strongest motivation to stop us.

If you know of, see or suspect anything suspicious, please send a note to [email address removed for privacy] with as much info as possible. This can be done in your name, which will be kept confidential, or completely anonymously.

Looking forward to having a great week with you as we charge up the super exciting ramp to 5000 Model 3 cars per week!

Will follow this up with emails every few days describing the progress and challenges of the Model 3 ramp.

Thanks for working so hard to make Tesla successful,

Elon



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