Tesla is all Trouble
A former Tesla technician took to Twitter to detail what he says is extensive evidence of malpractice and waste at the electric carmaker’s factories, and potentially deadly battery defects in its cars.
Martin Tripp is a former Tesla technician who used to work in the electric carmaker’s dystopian-sounding Gigafactory 1 battery plant in Nevada. Tripp leaked information about the inner workings of the factory to the press in June, which he claimed was pumping out defective batteries.
On Wednesday, he unleashed a salvo of similar accusations via Twitter, complete with photos.
“Are you ready?” Tripp tweeted, before unloading the barrage of allegations, starting with a list of Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN). He claimed that vehicles bearing these numbers contain punctured battery modules. Punctured modules can explode or catch fire, as was the case earlier this year when a Tesla Model S appeared to spontaneously combust hours after crashing headlong into a truck on a California highway.
The battery modules used in the Model 3 are comprised of thousands of smaller lithium-ion battery cells, joined together along cooling ribbons to form ‘bandoliers.’ Seven of these bandoliers are then joined together to form a module, with four modules powering one car.
According to Tripp, producing these bandoliers is a wasteful process. The former technician claimed that between 450 and 750 bandoliers are scrapped every shift – roughly 67,000 to 112,000 individual battery cells. In addition, instead of being stored in climate-controlled warehouses, as Tesla claims – these scrapped bandoliers are left in rows of semi trailers, sitting in the factory’s parking lot.
Tripp has been engaged in a high-profile legal battle with Tesla for several months. He claims that he brought these issues up with factory management, and with Musk himself, only to find his concerns ignored and the issues unsolved.
After Tripp was accused by Tesla of “sabotage” and stealing trade secrets in a June lawsuit, the former technician countersued last month, alleging that Tesla leveled false accusations of sabotage at him in an internal email, defamed him by describing him as a disgruntled employee who acted out because “he wanted a promotion he did not receive,” and told several news outlets that he had threatened to come to the factory and “shoot up the place” – a claim that Tripp vehemently denies.
Shares of Tesla tumbled Wednesday following reports US securities regulators have subpoenaed the electric car maker’s Chief Executive Elon Musk over his statements about taking the company private.
Shares dropped 3.3 percent to $336.40 in afternoon trading after news of the formal demand for information was released by the New York Times and Fox Business.
The development suggests the oversight by the US Securities and Exchange Commission — which was characterized in previous news articles as an inquiry — has “advanced to a more formal, serious stage,” said The Times, which cited a person familiar with the matter.
A subpoena “typically requires the approval of top SEC officials,” the newspaper added.
A Tesla spokesperson declined comment.
Musk has been under scrutiny after disclosing a proposal to take the company private on Twitter and saying that financing for a transaction was “secured,” a claim that analysts viewed skeptically.
Some Tesla board members were reportedly caught off guard by Musk’s tweets and have urged the controversial chief executive to stop using the social media platform.
Tesla’s board of directors said Tuesday it formed a special committee to consider the proposal.
Musk on Monday explained in a blog post that his statements about financing were based on his conversations with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and other investors.