Tesla Removes Most Job Posts In North America After ‘Hardcore’ Layoffs

By automotive-mag.com 10 Min Read

Ever since I joined this stellar team of automotive journalists at InsideEVs last summer, I don’t remember a day when Tesla didn’t grab headlines. For all reasons good or bad, CEO Elon Musk’s company is synonymous with EVs in North America. Of late, those reasons have mostly been negative. Amidst ruthless layoffs, the world’s biggest all-electric carmaker has another update to this year’s series of dire developments: It has quietly stopped hiring in North America, according to new reports.

Welcome to Critical Materials, your daily digest of crucial news and events shaping the future of the U.S. and global automotive industry. Today, we’re expanding on Tesla’s hiring freeze in the U.S., the Commerce Department evaluating national security risks posed by China’s connected cars, and Ford rethinking its original plan to go all-electric in Europe by 2030.

30%: Hiring Slowdown Follows ‘Hardcore’ Layoffs At Tesla

If you’re not up to speed on the latest developments at Tesla, here’s a quick summary: The automaker recently decided to shred some 20,000 jobs worldwide in what is the largest workforce reduction in its history. The decision comes after disappointing first-quarter sales and an apparent pivot to artificial intelligence and robotaxis. After reviewing dozens of social media posts and interviewing recently laid-off Tesla employees, InsideEVs found that the layoffs were continuing well into this week.

And now, the hiring freeze raises questions regarding its plans to offer more models in the future. As of this morning on Tesla’s career page, there are only three listings for North America.

And they’re not even job postings. They’re multi-week training programs in Austin, Fremont and Sparks where workers first have to complete learning courses in areas such as electronics, robotics programming and building batteries and drive units. If they complete these courses successfully, they might be considered for a potential full-time job.

The news was first reported by business publication Quartz.

Tesla Careers Page

That stands in stark contrast to some 3,400 postings that were offered across North America, including the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico as of May 1, according to an archived version of Tesla’s online job board that Quartz found.

Most of these positions were at the sprawling gigafactories in California, Nevada and Texas. In addition to North America, there seems to be a hiring freeze in China as well, where Tesla fired 80% of its Supercharger team recently. Europe, however, has some open job listings in manufacturing at the Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenberg in Germany.

It’s hard to speculate how long this hiring freeze would last. If Tesla intends to fulfill Elon Musk’s pledge of launching multiple affordable EVs by mid-2025, as announced during the Q1 earnings call, it will require a substantial human workforce.

60%: Potential “Extreme Action” Against Chinese Connected Cars

Biden U.S. China

The Biden administration is investigating national security risks posed by China’s connected cars. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Wednesday that an “extreme action” against Chinese cars was on the table, Reuters reported.

Modern cars, especially EVs, are giant computers with wheels these days. Due to their heavy reliance on internet connectivity and a plethora of sensors that collect and transmit data, they are susceptible to cyberattacks by foreign hackers who can gain unauthorized access to these vehicles.

Here’s what U.S. officials are saying about the risks they pose, via Reuters:

Washington seems acutely aware of these potential risks, but little has been done about it so far. But that could soon change. Here’s an excerpt from the Reuters report:

“We have to digest all the data and then figure out what action that we want to take,” Raimondo said without detailing a timeline. “We could take extreme action, which is to say no Chinese connected vehicles in the United States or look for mitigation” including safeguards, guardrails, or other requirements.

The White House said in February the Commerce probe was being opened because vehicles “collect large amounts of sensitive data on their drivers and passengers (and) regularly use their cameras and sensors to record detailed information on U.S. infrastructure.”

Raimondo said at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing she was concerned about Chinese connected vehicles that “could be collecting massive amounts of data on Americans, who they are, what they say in their car, where they go to, their patterns of driving.”

There are only a handful of cars manufactured in China that are sold in the U.S. Ford imports the Lincoln Nautilus SUV from Hangzhou. Other cars built in China that are on sale in the U.S. include the upcoming Volvo EX30, Polestar 2 and the Buick Envision. If you’re wondering how these EVs skirted tough import restrictions, here’s a great explainer.

Even though Americans are open to cheap Chinese EVs, it seems like these cars won’t make it to U.S. shores, not even through the Mexico backdoor. A Senate bill aims to hike tariffs on Chinese auto imports from the current 27.5% to a whopping 125%. Recently, Mexico aligned with U.S. policy by halting all future meetings with Chinese carmakers—no exceptions to BYD here—and pulling back incentives for local factories.

90%: Ford Rescinds Plan To Go All-Electric In Europe By 2030

Ford Explorer electric (2023)

In 2021, Ford boldly decided to shift to an all-electric portfolio in Europe. This move was partly motivated by the stringent emissions targets set by the European Union, mandating automakers to sell only zero-emissions vehicles by 2035. Ford said it would achieve this goal five years ahead of schedule. However, it has since become apparent that the initial plan was overly ambitious.

Here’s from Automotive News this morning:

Ford now says it could continue to sell combustion engine cars after 2030 if buyers want them. “If we see strong demand, for instance for plug-in hybrid vehicles, we will offer them,” said Martin Sander, head of Ford’s passenger cars business in Europe.

There is a clear trajectory to electrification, Sander said. “We just have to manage our way towards 100 percent electric drivetrains,” he told the Financial Times Future of the Car summit on Tuesday.

That’s not to say that Ford won’t push ahead with its EV plans. It has already spent some $2 billion converting its factory in Cologne, Germany to build EVs based on Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform. The production of the electric Explorer compact SUV will begin next month and another new MEB-based EV will be revealed soon.

In North America, Ford’s upcoming three-row electric SUV has been postponed from 2025 to 2027, whereas the production of the electric pickup, codenamed “Project T3,” has been pushed back from 2025 to 2026.

100%: Would You Buy A Cheap Chinese EV?

First NIO ET5 tooling trial builds rolled off the production line.

It’s a tough line to straddle for U.S. regulators. On one hand, collaboration with Chinese OEMs and battery manufacturers is essential for U.S. automakers to access crucial technology. Without that, cost reduction and improved range and charging speeds could be challenging. But welcoming them with open arms is pretty much impossible—there’s a century-old homegrown car industry to protect.

But it’s a well-established fact that Chinese EVs would be irresistibly cheap if they ever landed on our shores (That’s highly unlikely in the current geo-political landscape). Chinese automakers have also upped their quality massively in recent years. Our man Kevin Williams who just returned from an official work trip to China, compiled a list of EVs that he thinks would crush it in the U.S. market.

So would you buy something like the BYD Seal or the Nio ET5, or perhaps another Chinese EV that catches your eye? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Contact the author: [email protected]

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *