The making of Tesla’s new Model 3, the company’s first affordably priced electric car, had a bumpy start.
Dozens of employees at Tesla complained about grueling working hours, attributed to CEO Elon Musk’s next-to-impossible production goals, which resulted in lifelong injuries, according to a report by the Guardian.
The automaker then fired between 400 and 700 workers from its south Bay Area headquarters and production plant. Since then, the company faced immense criticism and backlash from journalists and media outlets, but Musk had had enough.
On Tesla's third-quarter earnings conference call where Musk addressed the Model 3's production problems and the company’s record $619 million quarterly loss, he slammed journalists, media outlets and editors for their out of context coverage of the company’s employee layoffs.
Musk shamed all of the media people listening in, making his feelings about the press very clear.
"These are ridiculous," he said, referring to the way some unnamed outlets covered the story. "Any journalist [who wrote these articles] should be ashamed of themselves for lacking journalistic integrity."
The firings reportedly took place after reviewing the performance of those employees.
Musk claimed that Tesla needs to have higher standards for its employees than traditional automakers or it will "die," and said that, contrary to much of the coverage, only 300 employees from a total of 33,000 — 2 percent of the company's workforce — were let go of due to performance standards.
However, the firings reportedly led to a lawsuit, after a former employee accused the company of not giving proper warnings for performance. The CEO remained silent on the lawsuit. According to critics, the layoffs were a move to disrupt possible unionization efforts and not really performance-related the way Tesla claims.
But for Musk, the coverage largely didn't put Tesla's position as an upstart automaker into proper context, and those reports came specifically from "journalists and editors with low integrity."
“Shame,” he said before changing the topic.
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Patrick T. Fallon, Files