Tesla is dismissing more than 3,000 workers from its California headquarters and beyond, according to a report from Bloomberg. In company-wide emails, Musk said an employee had admitted to conducting corporate sabotage, and a potentially suspicious fire had broken out in its factory's body-shop on Monday (June 18).
The alleged Sunday sabotage saw the suspect carrying out "quite extensive and damaging sabotage" to Tesla, including changing the code to an internal product and then exporting data to others outside the company, a CNBC report said.
The CEO, who warned that there may be "considerably more to this situation than meets the eye", said they still need to determine whether the saboteur was working alone, with other Tesla employees, or with outside organizations.
Musk thanked departing staff for their service, saying the company was "making this hard decision now so that we never have to do this again"; he also promised Tesla would "continue to flatten" its management structure.
Fremont police didn't receive or respond to any calls for service at the Tesla plant over the weekend, according to a spokeswoman.
The Tesla CEO's messages to employees come days after some 3,000 Tesla employees were dismissed, representing almost a tenth of the entire workforce. In it, he talks about "another unusual incident that was hard to explain": a small fire at the Fremont facility on Sunday-the fifth since 2014.
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Tesla can ill afford manufacturing setbacks now.
The email was obtained by CNBC and confirmed to be legitimate by several Tesla employees.
The automaker is ramping up efforts to meet its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3s, the company's attempt to offer a more affordable auto that would allow it to break into the broader consumer market.
The leaked email, sent to Tesla's roughly 40,000 staff, said the matter was being was being investigated.
Elon Musk is often compared to Marvel's Tony Stark (sometimes even a spy thriller supervillain) and the latest news out of the company sounds like it was ripped from the script of a summer blockbuster.
Tesla is no stranger to concerns of sabotage.
Musk said the reorganisation did not affect hourly-paid assembly-line employees and was not expected to delay manufacturing targets. The company sued a former oil-services executive in 2016 for impersonating Musk in an email to former Tesla CFO Jason Wheeler.