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Tesla lays off many Charger team members, raising questions about expansion| GuyWhoKnowsThings

Elon Musk has gutted the part of Tesla responsible for building electric vehicle charging stations, sowing uncertainty about the future of America's largest and most reliable charging network.

The layoffs of about 500 Tesla employees, which many of them posted about on social media on Tuesday, raised questions about offers that Musk, Tesla's chief executive, struck a blow with the leaders of General Motors, Ford Motor and other automakers last year by allowing cars made by other companies to use Tesla supercharger stations.

Tesla's deals with other electric car makers assured buyers that they could find fast chargers on road trips, addressing one of the main reasons many people are hesitant to buy such cars. It was also seen as a coup for Musk, as it validated Tesla's technology and gave the company enormous influence over the auto industry.

Almost all major manufacturers announced plans to change the hardware and software in their cars to make them compatible with Tesla chargers. Ford has been sending adapters to owners of its older electric vehicles so they can connect to Tesla chargers.

Musk said on X, the social media site he owns, that Tesla would slow construction of new charging stations and increase its “focus on 100% uptime and expansion of existing locations.”

On Monday, in an email to employees reviewed by The New York Times, Musk said he would disband “the entire group of approximately 500 people” who had worked on building new Supercharger stations. In that message, he said the company would finish stations under construction and build new ones “when critical.”

The abrupt dismissal of the Supercharger team caught many people off guard.

Andrés Pinter, whose company installs chargers for Tesla, said he was stunned Tuesday morning to learn of the layoffs, which included about 20 people he had been in contact with on construction projects. He said emails sent to those Tesla employees had returned with an automated message saying those addresses were no longer valid.

“I see this as a striking shift from going all-in on the Supercharger network,” said Pinter, co-CEO of Bullet EV Charging Solutions, based in Austin, Texas, where Tesla is also headquartered. Until Tuesday, Pinter said, Tesla had been pushing Bullet to expand to other states and move forward as quickly as possible.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

A Ford spokesman, Martin Günsberg, said the company's plans have not changed.

Numerous laid-off Tesla employees publicly discussed the job cuts. Musk “has let go of our entire charging organization,” said William Navarro Jameson, senior manager of Tesla's charging operation. said in X. “What this means for the charging network, NACS and all the interesting work we were doing across the industry, I still don't know.”

NACS, or North American Charging Standard, was developed by Tesla and has a reputation for being a reliable and easy-to-use charging technology.

The latest layoffs, two weeks after Tesla said it was laying off 14,000 people Around the world, restless investors who had been regaining confidence in the company after it reported last week on a 55 percent drop in first-quarter profit.

Tesla shares closed about 5 percent lower Tuesday afternoon, although they are still up about 13 percent since Thursday. Musk has said in recent weeks that despite a drop in car sales, Tesla still has huge growth potential from products based on artificial intelligence and self-driving technology.

The charging network is seen as a key element to Tesla's dominant position in the electric vehicle market. There were hardly any fast chargers when the company began selling the Model S, its first sedan, in 2012. Tesla built its own network of more than 2,600 fast chargers in the United States. They are often the only shippers in many regions.

“You made the adoption of electric vehicles possible,” George Bahadue, another senior manager at the charging unit, said Tuesday. LinkedIn in a message to other team members who had also lost their jobs.

By allowing other manufacturers to use the network, Tesla opened up a potentially lucrative source of recurring revenue. But Musk also took away exclusive network access, which was one of the perks of owning Tesla cars.

The automaker has been a major recipient of federal funds to build charging networks. While other automakers like Hyundai and Ford have been chipping away at Tesla's market share, Musk may have concluded that Tesla wasn't interested in building many more charging stations, which would help its rivals sell cars.

Some employees expressed bitterness after the layoffs, raising the risk that abrupt layoffs could undermine morale among those still at the company.

“If you had told me a month ago that Tesla was a company that would notify the people, some with more than 10 years of experience, who helped build the company to what it is today with nothing more than a 'Dear Employee' email 'in the middle of the night,' wrote Lane Chaplin, a former freight unit employee, in LinkedIn“I would have said you're crazy.”

ryan mac contributed with reports.

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