back to article Tesla undecimates its workforce but Elon insists everything's absolutely fine

Tesla is cutting nine per cent of its workforce in a "comprehensive organizational restructuring", according to an internal email sent by its CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday. While that email was sent only to employees, Musk then tweeted the full text immediately afterwards and it is clear that the missive was designed to be read by …

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Trees

"given breakthroughs being made in using (possibly renewable) power to capture CO2 from the atmosphere and use it to create hydrocarbon fuels,"

I'm pretty sure shrubs and trees aren't exactly breakthroughs, but they use solar power to capture CO2 and can be then used as hydrocarbon fuel :)

Bamboo and willow charcoal, or whatever we're clear felling these days :)

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batteries: 350-400 mile range, recharge to 95% in less than 15 minutes

That's quite a current required to do that at low to medium voltages. The latter for public safety reason, the former requiring thicker cables for safety and efficiency reasons.

Thicker cables usually means more copper / aluminium. Costly infrastructure, more mining etc. More energy expenditure and so it goes on.

There's no such thing as 'clean energy'. It seems to be a phrase that is used to convey a 'free from bad consequences energy'.

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Boffin

the problem with electric cars has always been ... the batteries ...

the problem with electric cars has always been the capacity of the batteries and the speed at which they recharge

Those are certainly the biggest current issues but, should we try to scale-up electric cars, the delivery of enough electricity to recharging stations (@home, @work, @'petrol' stations) - with massive spikes in typical demand times (after driving to/from work) - will become an extremely difficult problem to address.

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In order to compete with gas/diesel powered cars in the US market, they need to have a range of around 350-400 mile and recharge to 95% in less than 15 minutes

Whilst I appreciate that the US in spread out, who on Earth is doing 300-450miles on a daily basis - that 80,000 miles a year (for 200 working days). The vast majority of the population live within 250miles of the coastline (which is why Tesla's Semi truck is designed with a 300 mile range - they don't care about ice road truckers or people doing trans-continental trips. They've done their market research and know that the majority of freight travels less than 100miles from port to distribution/sorting centre).

This isn't an all-or-nothing deal. Many households have two cars - it is entirely practicable to run an EV for your every day driver and have an ICE or Hybrid for longer commutes or weekends away - which moves to a 50% fleet of EVs.

I've seen people saying "but what about when I drive 500miles to my family at Thanksgiving?", and my response is "You're going to run an ICE car for 364 days of the year just to go to Thanksgiving?". Once capital costs come down, it'll be cheaper to run an EV most of the time and just rent an ICE/Hybrid for the once or twice a year you go away. The tipping point in the US is further away because they pay nothing for petrol, but it's coming - especially if states or cities start to legislate in the absence of Federal pressure. LA and California are ahead of the game. Eventually New York and Chicago will decide to clean up urban air quality and start introducing congestion zoning which will rapidly move urban delivery vans, taxis and other vehicles over to cleaner alternatives.

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so again it's a case of electric cars catering for maybe 80-90% of the population, while the rest stick to hydrocarbons.

Or indeed Extended Range Hybrids that run on batteries for 90% of the time and kick in the genset for the one day a month they run off on a long distance trip.

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How many people, in reality, use their car for long 400-mile trips to random locations that are 'in the middle of nowhere' enough to not have an electric socket available. Maybe 5-10% of road users? The other 90-95% are covered by Raj's description of what the Tesla delivers.

You're confusing road users with journeys.

Maybe only 5-10% of my journeys are long drives to places where I can't conveniently recharge, but that still means that an electric car doesn't meet all my needs, and an IC one does. An electric car is therefore of no use to me, except as a second car. If I only have one car it needs to meet 100% of my needs, not 90%.

And before you suggest renting an IC one for that 5-10%, remember that for that to be possible requires someone to make those IC vehicles, and maintain a refuelling network for them, just like today. That is unlikely to be practical if it's only for 10% of journeys, many of which will be bank holidays and summer weekends, when everybody will be trying to hire at the same time.

EVs certainly have a niche market in pollution-conscious places like cities, although it will be interesting to see how popular they remain once they are taxed as heavily as all other vehicles instead of both them and their fuel being subsidised.

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Re: Why not just switch the batteries

Petrol stations seem to have managed it, so I don't agree that planning permission will be an obstacle.

Petrol station fires rarely reach the tanks, they tend to be on the surface where they can be dealt with relatively easily with conventional firefighing means. I wouldn't be so sanguine about dealing with, say, a Tesla battery pack catching fire in the middle of a warehouse full of others like it.

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just rent an ICE/Hybrid for the once or twice a year you go away.

That works while ICE vehicles are still in a majority, but who's going to maintain a refuelling network for them if they are only used occasionally? How do you manage the economics of a fleet of ICE cars that lie idle for months, but everyone wants to rent one at Thanksgiving?

The tipping point in the US is further away because they pay nothing for petrol

Hardly nothing compared to, say, Venezuela, but that's even more true for EVs. Their "fuel" is cheap because it isn't taxed like petrol/diesel, but no government will abandon that revenue. If EVs take over from ICE vehicles you can be sure that they'll be taxed just as heavily, with no more subsidies.

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The simple solution is common battery packs (common size, connections, power output etc) and easy way to swap them in and out. Then a "fuel visit" would not be a charge up but swapping out low charge batteries for fully charged ones.

Drawback is garage needs lots of storage for all the batteries

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Raj

I’m glad you acknowledge the impact of your own constraints on carbuying choice . Too many criticisms of EVs related to inability to home charge, conflate the persons own constraints with that of the car .

A contractor or foreman clearly shouldn’t buy a Kia Rio or Toyota Yaris, and then complain it can’t handle the piles of lumber he tried to stick inside at Home Depot . Similarly, it isn’t the smart choice to buy an EV if you’re clearly constrained from easily charging it .

However, when you live/work someplace where the charging infrastructure works for you, at least with a Tesla and it’s network of chargers, I find practically no compromise . Quite the opposite, since my energy and overall operational costs are way lower .

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The needs of travelers in the early 1900s was much different than today. People weren't driving their cars daily, towns were smaller and electricity wasn't as ubiquitous. Electric cars were preferred since they were quieter, cleaner and easier to drive. Another issue was that petrol came in tins purchased at the chemist rather than pumps. The chemist frequently could be out of stock and not know when the next shipment would come in.

A visit to a forecourt for a petrol/diesel can take 15 minutes if there is a queue. If you want a vehicle that will charge from flat to 95% in 15 minutes (80% would be a better target), you have to be prepared to hoist a large cable with a massive connector to handle the currents involved. That's rarely needed, though. The vast majority of people are NOT driving further than 250 miles in one go and since it's possible to easily charge an EV each night and have a full charge each morning, it's far different in having greater range in a petrol car to reduce the number of trips to the gas station. Your comment about having to visit a "designated recharge location" is silly. You've just described a petrol station. If you are in Europe or the UK, Shell is installing rapid chargers in their forecourts, so there you go.

The battle of the plugs is between Tesla, which have gone with their own proprietary charging scheme and the two other standards that everybody else uses, ChaDeMo and CCS(?). The latter two are commonly available at all DC fast charger locations and Tesla is having to install their own network since they chose not to go with an industry standard. A Tesla can use ChaDeMo with an adapter, purchased separately. This is no different than choosing between petrol and diesel to match what your car needs. Unless you buy a Tesla and then need to visit a Tesla station. Tesla likes it that way. They could have been making loads of money on charging if they didn't go with their own scheme. Beta vs. VHS.

For many long trips, a long range EV can work just fine. At the distances where charging times are adding a significant amount of time, you will have probably wanted to fly anyway. If you have other people with you, especially children, you are going to be stopping more frequently than you NEED to recharge anyway, so plugging in at those short stops is worthwhile with a longer stop for meals where a bulk of recharging can be done. I drove half way across the US for the 2017 total eclipse and kept track of my stops and mileage (ICEV). I would have added about 1.5-2 hours each way with an EV, but I would have shaved 75% of the fuel cost from the trip. Sadly, while taking the train was only twice as long, it was twice as expensive too.

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Anonymous Coward

Also,

The stats from the USA and places like Norway and Holland show that most people charge their cars at home.

I do just that. Having Solar Panels means that I can charge my car right from the electricity that my home makes. Later this year, I'm having 17KW of Battery fitted so that I can charge my car at any time from my own leccy. That will give me 50% charge for my Leaf (made in sunderland).

There are now plenty of Charge Points around in the UK. Just go to www.zap-map.com and see for yourself. Some are even totally FREE to use. Yes folks, you plug in and charge and it does not cost you a penny..

Getting an EV is more than just changing a vehicle. It is a lifestyle change. You start to look at things differently and notice how smelly many Diesels can be.

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Re: Also,

I doubt that semantically speaking, the Leaf is actually "made" in Sunderland. Strictly, it is more likely to be merely assembled in Sunderland, from parts made elsewhere. In many cases, "Made in Britain" is one of the 'weasel' phrases to get round national constraints on what may be imported. As someone who once worked in Britain's once proud commercial vehicle business, the assembly gang were considered to be a bunch of overpaid monkeys. The real skills were in the machine shops, the foundries and forges, where the parts were really "made"

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Re: Also,

I'd be all over a leccy car, I can't physically drive more than 30 miles in any one direction without ending up in the sea so range isn't what I'd call an issue :P

Unfortunately my parking space is two houses away and there's no charging at work, I'm going to have to buy a bigger house first...

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Re: Also,

"I doubt that semantically speaking, the Leaf is actually "made" in Sunderland. "

Many Tesla Fanbois make the "made in USA" claim. The ugly truth is that there are lots of parts coming from Asia. Some recent stories about Tesla having to re-machine loads of parts showed crates piled up with Asian "from" labels. I also think that Munro & Assoc. did a breakdown of parts sources for the Model 3, but the full report costs a big pile of money so it's not something that can be easily searched. Sandy Munro has shown a bunch of parts that were from outside the US in interviews.

Having the assembly in country is a good thing. That's where many of the jobs are had. Lots of the sub-assemblies might be coming from automated lines. The first world governments are trying to ban the foundry and forge industries since they are "high carbon impact" businesses. Metal processing in the US has gone to the dogs with most metals coming from overseas. The President can add all the tariffs he likes on imports, but the horse has already left the barn. The remaining problems are the companies themselves. They make a limited range of alloys and will only cater to very high volume markets such as automotive manufacturing. If you want a low carbon alloy for magnetic applications, they won't talk to you at all. If they do give you 10 seconds, you would have to promise full mill runs (that's a S-Ton of metal). The next round of "carbon" taxes will kill off most of what's left in the US and move it just over the border to Mexico where pollution limits are highly negotiable (in cash, to the right inspector). Bad news for Texas when the wind is from the southwest.

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Anonymous Coward

Not amped up...

I find it shocking that an electric car company is letting people go, watt is the world coming to? Hopefully the employees that get terminated will have a chance to recharge, and will be able to find new jobs where their skills are still current.

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Re: Not amped up...

Glad you're not being negative.

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Re: Not amped up...

Let's hope that they can get out of their leases without too big of a penalty. Being unemployed in the Silicon Valley is a fast ticket to also being homeless due to the costs.

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I find it shocking that an electric car company is letting people go, watt is the world coming to? Hopefully the employees that get terminated will have a chance to recharge, and will be able to find new jobs where their skills are still current.

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Undecimates is not a word.

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It is now.

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Headmaster

Undecimates is not a word.

It's a perfectly cromulent word.

And as decimate, meaning reduce by 1 in 10, comes from the Latin decem, meaning 'ten', then a reduction of 9%, which is near enough 1 in 11, by the same process, would come from the Latin undecem, meaning eleven. Reducing the workforce by 5% (1 in 20) would be vigintimate by the same process.

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I think you created a brand name,.....

... but 'vigintimate' sounds like a cream. :- |

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The media's hardon for Elon Musk continues.

This is normal opperating procedure for just about every company in the world every few years or in some cases every year.

But lets use it as a stick to hammer away at the man who dared call out the 'journalist' profession for the degenerate, lazy lie spreading junk fest it has become.

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Yes, indeed, you can tell because here at The Register they never comment on companies like Oracle or IBM firing people.

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Anonymous Coward

Easy fix make more flamethrowers

So his Boring company sold 20k limited run of flamethrowers to fund his tunneling startup. Rumours of an ice blaster next.....

Not a BFG please

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Re: Easy fix make more flamethrowers

So his Boring company sold 20k limited run of flamethrowers to fund his tunneling startup.

I know lots of people on here don't like the man, but making a simple popular product with the staff, materials, and skills you have in order to find what you want the company to really do, is quite a clever way to fund your startup. Worst case, you restructure and spin out the inadvertently more successful flamethrower startup.

Obviously that ignores the difficulty in achieving the simple popular product step, given that most companies fail in the first 12 months....

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Re: Easy fix make more flamethrowers

The really clever trick was to take a $50 weed burner/roofing tool and sell it for $500. Although it was re-skinned and branded, which means it would have involved some R&D, tooling and other manufacturing costs.. So possibly not as profitable as it would appear on first blush. But it generated a lot of publicity for something that's readily available in a cheaper form. And then there's an issue about how much revenue to set aside for litigation costs.

But the media loved it, so worked as a marketing stunt. Even though it had nothing really to do with TBC's core business of tunnelling. Unless they're using organic, sustainable pine resin as a tunnel sealant instead of filthy tar..

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Back to the Future II?

DeLorean ...

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Pretty standard for a US company

We have a forced ranking system, top 10% get a pay rise, middle 80% get a token pay rise, bottom 10% get put on a performance plan and get the boot 12 months later or as soon as the company feel they can do it without getting sued. You should see out management structure though, it's a thing of beauty, it must have been based on the design for the Eiffel tower it even has a dotted line lattice work!

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i guess they are firing those that aren't Boring enough...

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Contradictory to the Musk business model?

I have read many times that Musk's managers pay attention to details. Teslas are designed so that they use the minimum number of types of fastener -- it means that a factory requires fewer tools or employs tools which can be reused. Everything is supposed to be as efficient as possible.

But the firing of 9% of white collar workers suggests that Tesla is inefficient. Or maybe people were employed in the expectation that Tesla would be building more cars? Either way, it doesn't look good.

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"These cuts were almost entirely made from our salaried population and no production associates were included, so this will not affect our ability to reach Model 3 production targets in the coming months."

So the workers on the production line don't get paid?

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I'm guessing that means they're paid by the hour rather than salaried.

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Alternatively

Build a pebble bed or molten salt small modular reactor with an output temperature of 600 celcius or greater, use that to make ammonia from seawater and air, burn that ammonia in internal combustion engines, job pretty much done.

Unfortunately billions per year are spent on renewable subsidies or grid priority, while governments won't fund much nuclear research (except for China's government).

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It's that easy.

Crashing a Tesla.

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Nine percent

What surprises me is that the nine percent was taken from "Salaried" people, and that none of these worked in a productive capacity. Having spent a lifetime in manufacturing, I'm surprised that there are even nine percent of the workforce in a non production capacity. It was once said by a (Victorian) ship builder, "If I could hire twenty more shipwrights, I could build more ships. If I hired twenty more accountants, not a single extra plank would be fitted".

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Anonymous Coward

Tesla is like Concorde

Decades ahead of it's time but too expensive and not ready for the mainstream.

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Bored waiting.

I cancelled my Model 3 reservation last week. 2 years and 2 months waiting, no customer communications of note, no sign of any RHD models yet, the AWD version costs north of £60k. Bought a new LEAF instead and they were hugely apologetic for the 12 week delay.

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Anonymous Coward

I Blame brexit

Anything negative in the world can be traced back to Britain's vote.

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Re: I Blame brexit

I blame the bloody awful Warsaw Concerto.

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Anonymous Coward

How about

apple buys into tesla say 5-10 beellions worth ? Solves both their prblems ...

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Re: How about

How about Apple buys the Model 3 and Model S tear down reports from Munro & Associates ($150kish, maybe less), Buys a few different EV models to tear down themselves ($300K) and puts $2billion into producing their own car?

Tesla needs profits or they would just be swapping debt from one place for debt in another. It's a gamble to think that putting more money in is going to get them to profitability. There is no advantage for Apple to make a huge investment in them.

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Gimp

things are going to get bad

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