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Tesla reverses Supercharger layoffs, rehires staff

Tesla reverses Supercharger layoffs, rehires staff

Supercharger Rehire

In a surprising move that has sent shockwaves through the electric vehicle industry, Tesla CEO Elon Musk laid off the company’s entire 500-person Supercharger team two weeks ago.

However, in an unexpected twist, Tesla is now quietly rehiring some of those employees as Musk pledges to invest $500 million in expanding the Supercharger network.

Tesla’s Supercharger network is widely regarded as the company’s crown jewel. Early on, Tesla recognized that giving owners the ability to quickly recharge on the road was critical to making electric vehicles a viable alternative, even though most charging happens slowly at home overnight. The Supercharger network now boasts over 2,000 stations and 25,000 plugs in the U.S., and the chargers are known for their reliability – something that often can’t be said for other networks.

The Supercharger network has been so successful that over the past year, nearly every other automaker selling or planning to sell EVs in the U.S. has announced plans to adopt Tesla’s J3400 charging standard and give their customers access to the Supercharger network. This makes Musk’s decision to dismiss the entire Supercharger team all the more puzzling. While Supercharger revenue only accounts for about 5% of Tesla’s total, that percentage is poised to grow as more automakers gain access.

Supercharger team rehires spark curiosity

And although Tesla’s own vehicles charge seamlessly at Superchargers, there’s no guarantee the experience will be as smooth for other brands’ cars, which the network isn’t optimized for. The layoffs also appeared to stall Tesla’s plans for a more powerful charger to benefit 800V and 900V vehicles from brands like Audi, Porsche and Lucid.

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But just days after saying the focus would be on uptime at existing locations rather than expansion, Musk announced plans to build more chargers – and to do so, Tesla will need to rehire many of the employees it let go. The rehiring began with Max de Zegher, an executive who reported to the previous head of Supercharging, Rebecca Tinucci. Rumor has it Musk fired the whole team because Tinucci didn’t cut enough jobs herself. This isn’t the first time Musk has had to reverse course on an impulsive business decision.

In 2019, he backtracked in a similar way on plans to scrap a cheaper version of the Model 3 sedan. As Tesla strives to maintain its lead in the EV market, the expansion and reliability of the Supercharger network remain crucial. The rehiring of key staff signals a renewed commitment to this competitive advantage.

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