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The Tesla layoff saga continues, with a manager leaving the company after 7 years. But this time, the manager wasn’t laid off, but rather left on his own volition due to the effect that layoffs had on morale.

It seems like every few days there’s another notice of new layoffs at Tesla. It started with Tesla laying off “more than 10%” of its global workforce in mid-April, a layoff round which had been rumored for some time.

In the wake of that first announcement, we’ve heard of many entire teams that have been cut, many seemingly for rather petty reasons.

Tesla’s entire ad team was cut just a few months after being formed because CEO Elon Musk said the ads were “too generic.” And Tesla’s entire supercharging team felt Musk’s wrath after its standout head, Rebecca Tinucci, apparently did not satisfy Musk’s desire for more cuts – so instead, he axed the entire team, despite it being one of the most-successful within the company.

Tesla also laid off several workers in software and service earlier this week, despite service still being a necessary department to grow as more Tesla vehicles hit the road and continue to age.

The layoffs haven’t just included rank-and-file employees, but many high-ranking executives, leading observers to notice that Musk seems to be trying to isolate himself at the top. Currently, Tesla only has one C-level executive other than Musk himself listed on its corporate governance page – CFO Vaibhav Taneja, who was elevated to that role in September. Tom Zhu is still listed as head of automotive, despite Electrek reporting that he’s been demoted back to head of China earlier this week.

The layoffs are affecting morale, with many employees wondering when the bleeding will stop and if their division might be next to fall to the CEO’s frantic whims. And observers can’t help but wonder why Musk is continuing to take such destructive actions to his own company.

The low morale associated with these layoffs claimed one victim this week, as a Tesla manager decided to leave the company amid the chaos, saying that Tesla “has taken its pound of flesh.”

Rich Otto, head of product launches, resigns from Tesla

Rich Otto was the Head of Product Launches at Tesla, having worked at Tesla for 7 years and previously working at Faraday Future.

Otto started in Tesla’s communications team, working with Tesla’s fleet of vehicles for press and reviewers, and went on to manage that team. He was the person responsible for getting cars to tech reviewers.

After that, Otto moved on to be the head of product launches, acting as the program manager for Tesla’s launch events. He managed the events for the first deliveries of Model S Plaid, Model Y and Cybertruck, and Tesla’s Cyber Rodeo at Gigafactory Texas. He also worked on other aspects of Tesla’s customer-facing communications.

Otto said in a LinkedIn post that he loved the collaborative working environment within Tesla, and most of all loved the people working there.

But now, with the effects of the layoffs on morale, not only are some of the “great people” formerly working at Tesla no longer there (like Daniel Ho, head of Vehicle Programs, who worked with Otto on vehicle launches but was laid off alongside the supercharging team), but those still working there are wondering what the path forward is. In his post, Otto said it’s “hard to see the long-game” of these decisions.

Why leave? It’s a company I love and that has given me so much, but has also taken its pound of flesh.

Great companies are made up of equal parts great people and great products, and the latter are only possible when its people are thriving. The recent layoffs that are rocking the company and its morale have thrown this harmony out of balance and it’s hard to see the long-game. It was time for a change.

-Rich Otto, Former Head of Product Launches at Tesla, on LinkedIn

Otto says that he sent his resignation last week, and that he’s going to take some time off before figuring out what to do next.

Electrek’s Take

We’ve said time and time again that the nature of how Tesla is conducting these layoffs would affect morale, and this is just one example of a high-ranking veteran employee who decided they’d had enough.

Maybe some will consider this a good thing, because if headcount reduction is the most important thing for Tesla right now, then getting people to leave voluntarily can only help in the headcount reduction goal.

However, a company should have a more structured method to its layoffs. This does not seem to be an example of an employee who already had bad morale leaving – it’s an example of an employee whose morale was negatively affected by the chaotic actions of current management, and seemingly unending rounds of layoffs, responding and thinking that he could do better elsewhere away from the unnecessary stress being imposed on everyone in the company by the CEO himself.

If the goal of layoffs is to eliminate low performers, this isn’t how you do it. And if the goal is to eliminate those who already have bad morale, making employees’ morale worse is not the way to do it.

As a contrast, we also saw VW undertake some layoffs in Germany at the start of this month, and that hasn’t led to nearly as chaotic a situation within that company.

Instead of firing entire teams because of personality conflicts with their successful leaders, VW offered contract buyouts to its workers. This means that low-morale workers, or workers close to retirement, can depart on good terms. And current workers can remain secure in their jobs, thus affecting overall morale a lot less (and maybe even positively, as low-morale workers are likely the first to take the buyouts).

And VW still gets its desired money savings from trimming headcount. But it doesn’t have to deal with the poor PR of chaotic layoffs, or of post-employment chaos like sending incorrect severance packages and having no idea which suppliers they’re working with, as Tesla has.

Maybe it would be good for Musk to take some notes from a real CEO, especially while he’s currently trying to convince shareholders to give him $55 billion – enough to pay the 14,000+ employees he’s laid off six-figure salaries for ~40 years – amidst the chaos his part-time management is causing.

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This ‘supercharger on wheels’ brings fast charging to you




This 'supercharger on wheels' brings fast charging to you

Mobile car care company Yoshi Mobility just launched a DC fast charging EV mobile unit that it likens to “a supercharger on wheels.”

Yoshi Mobility saw that its existing customers needed mobile EV charging in places where infrastructure has yet to be installed, so the Nashville-based company decided to bring the mountain to Moses.

“We recognized a demand among our customers for convenient daily charging, reliable private charging networks, and proper charging infrastructure to support their fleet vehicles as they transition to electric,” said Dan Hunter, Yoshi Mobility’s chief EV officer and cofounder.

The company says its 240 kW mobile DC fast charger, which can turn “any EV” into a mobile charging unit, is the first fully electric mobile charger available. It can provide multiple charges in a single trip but doesn’t detail how they charge the DC fast charger or who manufactured it. (I’ve asked for more details.)

Yoshi is launching its mobile charger on two GM BrightDrop Zevo 600s and will introduce additional vehicles throughout 2024. It aims for full commercialization by Q1 2025. (I wonder if the Zevo 600 ever charges itself? Yes, I asked that too.)

Yoshi Mobility says it’s already deployed its EV charging solutions to service “major OEMs, autonomous vehicle companies, and rideshare operators” across the US. Its initial customers are made up of large EV operators managing “hundreds” of light-duty vehicles requiring up to 1 megawatt of energy per day that don’t yet have grid-connected EV chargers. I’ve asked Yoshi for details of who it’s working with, and will update if they share that info.

The company says pricing is based on location and enterprise charging needs. Once under contract for service, the service will be deployed to US-based customers within 10 days.

To date, Yoshi Mobility has raised more than $60 million, with investments from GM Ventures, Bridgestone, ExxonMobil, and Y-Combinator in Silicon Valley.

Read more: Mercedes-Benz just opened more DC fast chargers at Buc-ee’s in Texas

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Toyota US boss says company is ‘catching up’ on electric vehicles




Toyota US boss says company is 'catching up' on electric vehicles

Is Toyota catching up in the US electric vehicle market? Although Toyota’s US boss, Ted Ogawa, admits it’s behind Tesla, he believes the company is “catching up” on electric vehicles and new tech.

Toyota has been among the biggest laggards in shifting to fully electric vehicles. After a rocky start (including a recall) with the launch of its first EV in the US, the bZ4X, Toyota has failed to gain traction in the market.

Of the over 2.2 million Toyota vehicles sold in the US last year, only 9,329 were all-electric, or less than 0.5%.

The trend has continued this year, with only 1,897 bZ4X models sold through March. That’s less than 0.4% of the over 486,000 Toyota vehicles sold in Q1.

Ogawa says Toyota is watching customer demand for EVs rather than regulations. “However, the BEV was our missing piece two years ago, so that’s why we were very much criticized,” Ogawa explained in a new interview with Automotive News.

After building internally over the past two years, Toyota’s US boss believes the company is “catching up” on electric vehicles and new tech.

2024 Toyota bZ4X (Source: Toyota)

Is Toyota catching up on electric vehicles?

For example, Ogawa said that Toyota headquarters is building a “very exclusive factory” for EVs.

The new “BEV Factory” will feature several new technologies new to Toyota. The company showed off its next-gen EV production line last year with Giga casting, a process made popular by Tesla.

Mixed production at Motomachi factory (Source: Toyota)

Toyota says its “wealth of knowledge” about molds will help speed up production. The company believes it can reduce the lead time for changing molds to around 20 minutes compared to 24 hours.

Other tech like self-propelled assembly lines and robots are promised to enhance efficiency while minimizing defects.

(Source: Toyota)

Toyota also revealed new EV battery plans last summer, including two next-gen batteries due out by 2027. The first “Performance” battery is promised to feature over 800 km (497 miles) range while cutting costs by 20% compared to the bZ4X.

Meanwhile, the “Popularisation” version, due out in 2026-2027, is expected to feature over 600 km (372 miles) range at 40% lower costs.

Toyota EV battery roadmap (Source: Toyota)

Further out (2027-2030), Toyota plans to launch a series of “further evolution” batteries, including solid-state batteries with over 1,000 km (621 mi) range and 10-min fast charge.

Ogawa believes “this is kind of the starting year of the real multipath way, like the hybrid, which we already have, and then plug-in, something between hybrid and BEV, and then BEV, which it is time to introduce to the market.”

Although Toyota is “of course” behind Tesla’s battery tech, according to Ogawa, the company is “catching up.” Ogawa said Toyota is not only catching up on EVs but “also the ecosystem surrounding the BEV area, such as the home charging or energy management.”

Electrek’s Take

Is Toyota really catching up this time? We’ve heard this several times in the past from executives.

With EVs accounting for less than 0.4% of sales in the US, Toyota will need to do more to prove it. Toyota planned to launch solid-state EV batteries in 2021 and 2022, but now we are not expected to see them hit the market until around 2028 (at the earliest).

Other tech, like Giga casting and automated production, will help improve efficiency, but new EVs are not expected to debut until 2026.

Toyota has made several investments recently to boost US production, including a $1.4 billion investment in Indiana to build a new electric SUV, separate from its promised three-row EV model.

Can new models and tech help Toyota catch up in the electric vehicle market this time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Judge rules Exxon can sue activist shareholder over climate proposal




Judge rules Exxon can sue activist shareholder over climate proposal

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

A federal judge in Texas on Wednesday said Exxon Mobil can sue to bar a climate change proposal from an activist investor, in a case that has raised concerns about its future effect on shareholder resolutions.

U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman for the Northern District of Texas ruled that Exxon’s lawsuit can proceed against Boston-based Arjuna Capital, but dismissed the oil major’s claim against a second activist shareholder, Follow This, because the firm is based in the Netherlands.

Exxon sued the two investors in January after they submitted a proposal to be tabled at the May 29 annual shareholder meeting that called for the company to accelerate carbon dioxide emissions reductions.

Arjuna and Follow This subsequently withdrew the proposal, but Exxon proceeded with its claims against the two firms, arguing that they could file similar proposals at future shareholder meetings.

Exxon’s claims are based on Securities and Exchange Commission rules that allow companies to exclude shareholder resolutions if they deal with a matter relating to the company’s ordinary business operations, or are substantially similar to proposals offered in the past five years.

Pittman said Arjuna and Follow This were following a “Trojan Horse” model in which they aggregate enough shares in oil companies to vote and submit proposals aimed at fighting climate change.

The judge, appointed to the federal bench by former President Donald Trump in 2019, said Exxon should not be faulted for distrusting the activist investors. He said Arjuna could slightly modify its withdrawn 2024 proposal for submission to future shareholder meetings.

“Rather, the company’s position is a rational response to entities categorically opposed to Big Oil,” Pittman wrote. “Exxon is big. And Exxon is Oil. And another court has already found at least Defendant has leadership that’s ‘manifestly biased’ against Exxon.”

Arjuna, which calls itself “a sustainable investment firm that works with accredited investors and institutions to invest their assets with a lens toward sustainability,” did not immediately respond to an e-mail request from CNBC for comment.

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