News: Why Tesla rehired Supercharger team after controversial layoffs

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Why Tesla rehired Supercharger team after controversial layoffs

Will the callback finally stabilise the electric car giant's charging network plans?
Why Tesla rehired Supercharger team after controversial layoffs

Tesla has started rehiring several members of its Supercharger team after firing them in late April.

The US electric car maker reportedly brought back engineers and executives behind its global fast-charging network, who were fired by the company two weeks ago. Among those who returned was Max de Zegher, Tesla's director of charging in North America.

De Zegher was part of the Supercharger team led by Rebecca Tinucci. However, he was fired along with 500 other members of the team, including Tinucci herself. Tesla also dissolved its new-model launch team around the same time as the mass layoffs.

The move to rehire the Supercharger team is seen by market observers as a form of damage control considering Tesla's reported fallout with contractors, vendors and electric utilities companies that have purportedly invested millions into getting the construction of Supercharger stations started.

Firing a business-critical team

When news about the firings broke out, Tesla was heavily criticised for dismissing the people behind its Superchargers. Many believe the program could be a lucrative source of revenue for the company, especially since it is gearing up to open its network to EV brands across the world.

Following the layoffs, Tesla CEO Elon Musk went on X to assure the public that the company “still plans to grow the Supercharger network”. However, he clarified that they will be proceeding at a “slower pace for new locations” so that they can prioritise “uptime and expansion of existing locations.”

"[Supercharger] sites under construction will be completed and we will add additional Superchargers anywhere where there are gaps," Musk said at the time.

Musk also revealed the company is ready to spend more than US$500 million to expand its Superchargers network.

Last week, Tesla sent an email to its customers in Australia, reassuring them that it would finish the construction of new Supercharger stations. The company also reiterated its commitment to the network.

Musk butting heads with the Supercharger team

Prior to the firings, members of the Superchargers team were already concerned about their job security after Tesla had cut between 15% and 20% of its staffers. However, things got worse for the workers following their meeting with company leadership.

Musk reportedly was not happy with team leader Tinucci’s presentation and told her to lay off more people. When Tinucci balked at the order, claiming that deeper cuts would undermine the fundamentals of Tesla’s charging-business, the CEO responded by firing her and the entire Supercharger team.

Tinucci was one of few high-ranking women executives at Tesla. Before her dismissal, she had been reporting directly to Musk after battery-and-energy chief Drew Baglino left the company. Baglino was supposedly the one who was overseeing Tesla’s charging department, with Musk only having little involvement in the program.

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Topics: Recruitment, Business, Talent Management, Talent Acquisition

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