Connect with us

Published

on

After firing its entire Supercharger team, Tesla has sent out an email to suppliers which shows just how chaotic the decisionmaking leading up to the firings must have been.

Earlier this week, Tesla abruptly fired its entire Supercharging team, leading to an immediate pullback in Supercharger installation plans. Now we’ve seen the email that Tesla has sent to suppliers, and it’s not pretty.

When the firings were announced Monday night, there was little information about how they would affect Tesla’s plans.

On Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that “Tesla still plans to grow the Supercharger network, just at a slower pace for new locations and more focus on 100% uptime and expansion of existing locations.” According to Tesla’s website, Superchargers currently have 99.95% uptime.

But in the interim, we’ve already heard about Supercharger projects being cancelled, including halting rollout in the entire country of Australia, including sites that had already been subject to long-term leases and given the go-ahead for construction which will now be abandoned.

And Tesla has also sent out an email to all of its suppliers, which leaked to the internet. Here it is in full, but with contact information redacted:

To all concerned:

You may be aware that there has been a recent adjustment with the Supercharger organization which is presently undergoing a sudden and thorough restructuring. If you have already received this email, please disregard it as we are attempting to connect with our suppliers and contractors. As part of this process, we are in the midst of establishing new leadership roles, prioritizing projects, and streamlining our payment procedures. Due to the transitional nature of this phase, we are asking for your patience with our response time.

I understand that this period of change may be challenging and that patience is not easy when expecting to be paid, however, I want to express my sincere appreciation for your understanding and support as we navigate through this transition. At this time, please hold on breaking ground on any newly awarded construction projects and planned pre-construction walks. If currently working on an active Supercharging construction site, please continue. Contact [email redacted] for further questions, comments, and concerns. Additionally, hold on working on any new material orders. Contact [email redacted] for further questions, comments, and concerns. If waiting on delayed payment, please contact [email redacted] for a status update. Thank you for your cooperation and patience.

The email is remarkable for several reasons, largely because it shows a lack of structure and consideration to the decision to fire the entire team.

Firstly, Tesla states that it is “attempting” to connect with suppliers and that it may have sent multiple emails to some of them. This suggests that Tesla doesn’t have an established method of contact for all of its suppliers – either it doesn’t have a master contact list, or its previous method including points of contact within Tesla is not usable because, well, those points of contact would have been fired.

Second, it says that the “adjustment” (an odd word for firing an entire department) has led to a process of establishing new leadership roles. This is typically something that a company would consider before changing leaders, and ensure that there are current employees with experience who are ready to step up to take the position of a retiring leader, perhaps with a period of mentorship prior to the outgoing leader’s retirement.

Even in a situation where a firing is sudden, it’s typically reasonable to elevate a previous second-in-command to fill the void. This is why it’s beneficial to have a deep bench – something which Tesla has touted before.

Third, Tesla goes on to mention that these suppliers are “expecting to be paid,” which suggests that Tesla is likely to welch on its payment obligations, at least in the short term. We have seen Musk refuse to pay bills before, so mention of skipping out on payment must raise alarm bells for suppliers who have been working in good faith with Tesla.

Finally, Tesla asks for suppliers to continue construction on active projects, but to hold on breaking ground or doing pre-construction site walks. This could be considered unclear, as there are many parallel steps to approval, permitting and construction of sites, so it’s hard to set a single line that is easily communicated about which sites should continue and which sites shouldn’t. Presumably, site contacts within Tesla would be able to reach out to individual sites and tell them whether to continue construction or not – if they were still working there, which it seems they are not.

To ask for patience is reasonable when an unforeseen circumstance hits a company, but this is not an unforeseen circumstance – it is entirely self-inflicted by Tesla.

Other charging providers have reacted to Tesla’s disruption of its own Supercharger plans, with at least one company, Revel, suggesting that it’s ready to swoop in on “really good sites” that Tesla left on the table, particularly in Revel’s home in New York City.

Electrek’s Take

We have heard from several sources who told us that the reason for these firings is because Rebecca Tinucci, former head of Tesla’s EV Charging division, resisted Musk’s demand to fire large portions of her team.

While this is hearsay, it’s plausible considering the language in Musk’s letter announcing the firings – which claimed that some executives are not taking headcount reduction seriously, and made a point to say that executives who retain the wrong employees may see themselves and their whole teams cut. It isn’t a stretch to think that Musk included those demands since they were related to his firing of Tinucci and her team.

The Supercharging team was one of the more successful and crucial teams within Tesla, and many observers consider the Supercharger network to be Tesla’s primary “moat” that makes it better than the competition. Tinucci was also responsible for negotiating NACS agreements across the industry, leading to a huge win when Tesla’s plug became the de facto standard after basically every automaker adopted it over the course of the last year.

Superchargers are also incredibly important, especially in North America. In Europe there are more successful non-Tesla charge providers, but in NA, Tesla is the big dog. And if infrastructure is important, then Tesla pulling back is bad not just for Tesla but for EVs as a whole.

It seems abundantly clear that, whatever explanation we accept, the firing of the Supercharger team was not well-considered (and our readers seem to agree). Even if headcount reduction is necessary, the whole team shouldn’t be laid off. Even if it was necessary as a retaliatory measure – which would not be a good rationale – it still would be wiser to retain some part of it so as to avoid the chaos suggested by the email above.

Whatever mechanism led to the firing, it does fit into a pattern of increasingly erratic behavior that Musk has been showing lately.

Many possible explanations have been advanced to explain this behavior, and most of them don’t increase my personal faith that Musk will make the right decisions with Tesla.

As I said in our original post about Tesla’s first round of layoffs, we do need Tesla to keep pushing the industry forward. While Pandora’s box is open and EVs are here to stay at this point, regardless of Tesla’s ups and comparatively-rare downs, the rest of the industry is still trying hard to pump the brakes on the transition, even if it means America will be less competitive if those companies get their way.

Tesla is one of the few entities that is large enough and committed enough to dragging those timelines forward, whether the rest of the industry likes it or not. We need a healthy Tesla, and for that, we need steadier management. This email is not an example of that – and neither are most of Musk’s managerial actions recently.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Continue Reading

Environment

The Invanti Tornado is the Swiss Army knife of e-bikes [Video]

Published

on

By

The Invanti Tornado is the Swiss Army knife of e-bikes [Video]

Want your electric bike to have utility as well as comfort and style? Then, the Invanti Tornado, with its impressive array of optional accessories, could be your ideal ride.

Invanti is developing multi-functional e-bikes to reinvent the e-bike industry. It will launch an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign on May 22 for its first product, the versatile Tornado e-bike series. Early backers can purchase the Tornado for a super early bird price of $1,299, significant savings vs. gas bikes.

Invanti makes it easy to protect your e-bike from theft with its “invantimobility” app. The smart version Tornado Pro has a smart front hub lock feature that, once activated, can only be unlocked using the app.

This zippy and efficient utility e-bike has a 750W rear hub motor, 1,000 peak power, and a 48V 14.7Ah battery with Samsung cells that give a top speed of up to 25 mph. The Shimano 7-speed transmission, 80 mm travel suspension, 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes, and torque sensor means riding is smooth. It also sports a pair of 20-by-3-inch puncture-resistant tires.

The Tornado provides a range of 60 miles on pedal assist and 25 miles on throttle only. You can additionally install an extra 48V, 10.4Ah battery that you take with you, giving a cumulative total of 100 miles on pedal assist and 43.5 miles on throttle only. Plus, you can use the extra battery as a portable powerbank for your phone.

What makes the Invanti Tornado stand out is the cool accessories it comes with. Your e-bike arrives with a front rack, a rear cargo rack, a rear fork storage bag with lockout, and rear wheel mudguards. It also features front and rear lights with integrated turn signals.

Plus, it offers a choice of nine upgrade accessories, which give this bike an almost modular feel. This means you can make your e-bike bespoke:

If you want to cart around passengers, you can make it happen with the Invanti Tornado’s optional rear seat pad and passenger foot rest, and there’s also a child safety handrail. Its dual-tube aluminum alloy frame can handle payloads of up to 440 pounds.

Invanti’s super early bird price on the Tornado is $1,299, and the official crowdfunding price is $1,499.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Continue Reading

Environment

This startup is about to install bladeless rooftop wind turbines on box buildings

Published

on

By

This startup is about to install bladeless rooftop wind turbines on box buildings

Aeromine Technologies just closed a $9 million funding round, and it’s ready to scale up production of its bladeless rooftop wind turbines.

Energy research, investing, and strategy firm Veriten is the lead investor in Aeromine Technologies’ Series A funding round.

Aeromine, launched in 2022, makes compact 50 kW or larger “wind harvesting platforms” that it mounts on the edge of a building’s roof. The rooftop wind units, which have no external moving parts or blades, capture wind flowing up and over the building and convert it into onsite electricity. Its generator system is a rotor-stator system with a highly efficient 5 kW permanent magnet generator. (Specs are here.)

The noiseless technology leverages aerodynamics like airfoils on a race car to capture and amplify each building’s airflow to generate energy. Aeromine says its systems typically consist of 20-40 units installed on the edge of a building facing the predominant wind direction.

Each 1,000-pound unit can withstand winds of between 120 and 158 mph depending on specification.

Aeromine’s units can operate independently or be integrated with existing rooftop solar arrays. Onsite power generation eliminates grid supply disruptions.

Maynard Holt, founder & CEO of Veriten, said:

We believe that distributed power innovation will play a vital role in helping companies fulfill their need for reliable, reasonably priced electricity and desire for low-impact power. We’re excited to partner with Aeromine, as its ability to quickly and affordably help a wide variety of companies meet their energy needs with wind resources is unique among distributed energy solutions.

The bladeless wind turbines are designed to power apartment buildings, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, offices, hospitals, retail centers – basically any big box building with a flat, unobstructed roof.

The company says it has 400 qualified projects in its pipeline and expects to roll out commercially in Europe and North America in 2025. 

Read more: How renewables could beat natural gas in US generating capacity within 3 years – in numbers


If you live in an area that has frequent natural disaster events, and are interested in making your home more resilient to power outages, consider going solar and adding a battery storage system. To make sure you find a trusted, reliable solar installer near you that offers competitive pricing, check out EnergySage, a free service that makes it easy for you to go solar. They have hundreds of pre-vetted solar installers competing for your business, ensuring you get high quality solutions and save 20-30% compared to going it alone. Plus, it’s free to use and you won’t get sales calls until you select an installer and share your phone number with them.

Your personalized solar quotes are easy to compare online and you’ll get access to unbiased Energy Advisers to help you every step of the way. Get started here. –ad*

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Continue Reading

Environment

Ford likely to enable all dealers to sell EVs amid shifting plans

Published

on

By

Ford likely to enable all dealers to sell EVs amid shifting plans

With changes expected to Ford’s electric vehicle certification program, all Ford dealers will likely be able to sell EVs. Ford is reportedly preparing to open the program amid feedback from its dealers.

Ford poised to open dealers network to sell EVs

After asking dealers to pause EV investments this week, Ford is finalizing changes to the program. Ford already eased requirements last year due to “changes in the market.”

Ford spokesperson Marty Gunsberg confirmed that several dealers opted out of the program this past December. Gunsberg said, “Enrollments for 2024 are just over 50% of the network.” That’s down from about two-thirds confirmed by CEO Jim Farley a year prior.

According to Automotive News, after a series of meetings between dealers and executives, Ford is now preparing to allow all dealers to sell EVs.

Ford is expected to update the financial requirements needed to qualify. Previously, dealers were required to invest at least $500,000 to enroll in the program. For $1.2 million, dealers could be eligible for the “Elite” tier, which included additional chargers, demo units, and a presence on Ford.com.

Ford-dealers-EVs
Ford Mustang Mach E at a Tesla Supercharger (Source: Ford)

If dealers didn’t want to invest, they couldn’t sell Ford EVs. Ford’s vice president of EV programs, Lisa Drake, said the company no longer believes having select dealers sell EVs is the right plan.

More dealers want in but with less financial commitment

“What we’re finding is more dealers want to be involved in it and we don’t want to be exclusive to just a handful,” Drake said. “And so we’re making a change where we’re opening up that and not requiring as many certifications or investments for a dealer to participate in the EV revolution.”

Meanwhile, the changes will not be finalized until early June, when Ford meets with its dealer council.

Ford-dealers-EVs
2024 Ford F-150 Lightning lineup (Source: Ford)

It’s unclear how much Ford will reduce financial requirements to sell EVs, but many believe it will be drastically relaxed to promote participation.

Drake said Ford will be “more ubiquitous with our training and make sure essentially all of our dealers are equipped to sell them” going forward. Ford will need to figure out how to deal with those who have already made investments at the upcoming dealer council meeting.

Ford-dealers-EVs
Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Bronze edition (Source: Ford)

Ford slashed prices on its popular Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning in recent months to boost sales.

After cutting Mach-E prices by up to $8,100 earlier this year, Ford introduced a new 0% APR offer on 2024 models this week.

2024 Mustang Mach-E trim Range Starting Price
Mustang Mach-E Select 250 mi $39,995
Mustang Mach-E Premium 320 mi $43,995
Mustang Mach-E GT 280 mi $53,995
Mustang Mach-E Rally 265 mi $59,995
2024 Mustang Mach-E price and range by trim

Ford also introduced new discounts on the 2023 F-150 Lightning this week, offering up to $15,000 off MSRP. F-150 Lightning lease prices were cut by over $400 a month.

If you’re in the market for a new EV, now’s the time to start shopping. You can use our links below to find deals on Ford’s electric vehicles at a dealer near you.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Continue Reading

Trending