Tesla Is Alleging Sabotage Again

Tesla Is Alleging Sabotage Again

You might remember a different time, the summer of 2018, when Elon Musk said that Tesla had a saboteur on its hands. That set off a legal battle that may have finally ended last month. Tesla said this week it had uncovered a new alleged saboteur.

The details are pretty scant, but this is what Bloomberg got after obtaining an internal memo:

“Two weeks ago, our IT and InfoSec teams determined that an employee had maliciously sabotaged a part of the factory,” [Al Prescott, Tesla’s vice president of legal and acting general counsel] wrote. “Their quick actions prevented further damage and production was running smoothly again a few hours later.”

More than 10,000 people work at Tesla’s auto plant in Fremont, where the company makes the S, X, 3 and Y models. It was not immediately clear if Tesla handled the incident internally or reached out to law-enforcement agencies for assistance. A spokeswoman for the Fremont Police Department said Tuesday that they have not responded to any incident that matches these circumstances. The San Francisco office of the FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The employee, who was not named, allegedly sought to “cover up his tracks,” blame a co-worker and destroy a company computer, the email said. “Ultimately, after being shown the irrefutable evidence, the employee confessed. As a result, we terminated employment.”

Which is about all we know for now, though when sabotage was alleged in the 2018 case, CEO Elon Musk wrote the following in an internal email:

As you know, there are a long list of organisations that want Tesla to die. These include Wall Street short-sellers, who have already lost billions of dollars and stand to lose a lot more. Then there are the oil & gas companies, the wealthiest industry in the world — they don’t love the idea of Tesla advancing the progress of solar power & electric cars. Don’t want to blow your mind, but rumour has it that those companies are sometimes not super nice. Then there are the multitude of big gas/diesel car company competitors. If they’re willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they’re willing to cheat in other ways?

And this is actually one area in which I think that Musk’s suspicions aren’t totally unjustified. Remember that weird ransomware case from August?