Elon Musk has discovered a saboteur.
In various statements in public and recently to Tesla employees, Musk has said that he routinely lives around the clock at the manufacturing plant while the company tries to increase production of the Tesla Model 3, a mass-market sedan that now starts at $44,000. However, the Tesla CEO also suggested the alleged saboteur could have been working with short sellers, oil and gas companies-whom he described as "sometimes not super nice"-or "the multitude of big gas/diesel auto company competitors". He named Wall Street short-sellers, oil and gas companies and other automakers. Of this last group, Musk reminded his employees that, since the traditional OEMs have been known to cheat emissions tests, "maybe they're willing to cheat in other ways".
It looks like Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk may need to add some extra security to go along with the carmarker's efforts to ramp up production of its new Model 3 auto.
Tesla recently confirmed that it would lay off about 9% of its employees amid a broader restructuring of the company. More than 3 000 workers lost their jobs, and notices filed with the state of California revealed that over 500 employees in Fremont and Palo Alto were dismissed.
Earlier on Monday, Musk sent a separate email to employees informing them of a "small fire" on Sunday at a company facility. Musk said that the employee admitted to committing sabotage after not receiving a promotion.
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"Could just be a random event, but as Andy Grove said, 'Only the paranoid survive, '" Musk wrote, quoting the former CEO of Intel.
Tesla can ill afford manufacturing setbacks now. The company has struggled to meet its targets this year, but it has reaffirmed its plans to hit a production rate of 5,000 vehicles per week by the end of June. Smoldering in an air filter in the welding area of Tesla's body line was extinguished in a matter of seconds, she said. "There were no injuries or significant equipment damage, and production is back online".
The outspoken serial entrepreneur and angel investor has promised that Tesla, now the most shorted USA equity, will provide "the short burn of the century" as it ramps production of its first mass-market sedan.
In a tweet Sunday, Musk warned that those betting against the company "have about three weeks before their short position explodes".