Elon Musk Reportedly Dismisses Tesla’s Supercharger Team for Unusual Reasons

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Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla and SpaceX and owner of X Holdings Corp., speaks at the Milken Institute's Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel,on May 6, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. The 27th annual global conference explores various topics, from the rise of generative AI to electric vehicle trends and features participants, soccer star David Beckham and actor Ashton Kutcher.

The decision made by Tesla (TSLA) to dissolve its Supercharger team unfolded in a manner that caught many by surprise, reportedly lacking the strategic planning characteristic of previous company actions. According to accounts from former team members, the abrupt move came shortly after a meeting between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Rebecca Tinucci, the senior director overseeing the electric vehicle charging division and leading the Supercharger initiative.

Tinucci had anticipated a discussion with Musk regarding the future trajectory of the Supercharger network, hoping for confirmation of plans for substantial expansion. However, the meeting took an unexpected turn when Musk expressed dissatisfaction with Tinucci’s projections and suggested further downsizing of the team. Disagreeing with Musk’s proposed course of action, Tinucci voiced concerns that additional layoffs would compromise the fundamental integrity of the charging business. Musk’s response to her dissent was swift and definitive—he terminated Tinucci and her entire team on April 29, the day following their meeting.

In an internal communication announcing the staff reductions, Musk underscored the imperative of aggressive cost-cutting measures, urging employees to remain steadfast in their commitment to reducing headcount. He also hinted at consequences for executives whose teams failed to meet certain performance criteria, indicating potential layoffs.

The decision to disband the Supercharger team elicited confusion and criticism, with some interpreting the move as a signal of waning commitment to Tesla’s Supercharger network. However, Musk swiftly addressed these concerns on the social media platform X, asserting the company’s intention to invest over $500 million in expanding the Supercharger network in the future.

Following Musk’s reassurances, reports emerged indicating a reversal of the initial decision, with Tesla reportedly rehiring a portion of the disbanded Supercharger team. Among those brought back was Max de Zegher, the director overseeing charging operations in North America, recognized as a key figure in the Supercharger initiative.

Tesla’s Supercharger network, introduced in 2012, has been a cornerstone of the company’s strategy, offering rapid charging capabilities pivotal in accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles. Despite the initial setback, Tesla remains committed to expanding its Supercharger infrastructure, as evidenced by notable increases in the number of Supercharger stations and connectors reported in the company’s first-quarter earnings for 2024.

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