The Guardian: Green Car Maker Tesla Just Laid Off a Quality Control Department

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Breitbart – According to The Guardian, Tesla’s recent layoffs include an entire quality control department.

‘How do they expect to run without us?’ Tesla accused of axing key staff to cut costs

Electric car firm slashed 7% of workforce this month and ex-employees say more experienced staff were targeted

Alan Ochoa worked at Tesla’s Fremont plant in California for four years. He was laid off recently along with his entire department in quality control, many of whom were also long-time employees. “I have no idea how they expect to run without us,” said Ochoa.

The electric car company releases its latest financial results on Wednesday and analysts are not expecting good news. On 18 January, founder Elon Musk sent out a mass email to employees announcing 7% of the company’s workforce were being laid off, in addition to cuts to temporary and contracted employees, and warning of a “very difficult” road ahead.

Ochoa predicts Tesla’s “difficult road” will not be helped by laying off experienced staff.

He said: “My last repair on Friday was finding a rear fascia was missing a screw so if you pulled on it, it would pop out. I grabbed a drill, the screw, got down on my knees and made the repair myself. No one would have known about it unless they tugged on the edges of the rear fascia like I had made it a habit to do.

“But I know once the car starts driving it would become unseated due to the wind pulling it out.”

Tesla has suffered quality control setbacks in the past and workers fear those issues may be worsened by the cuts. Ochoa explained he was making several dozen repairs a day on quality control, depending on what line he was on.

He said: “I fear the quality will be greatly diminished. Not all of my repairs were easy to see but would have a lasting effect.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/30/tesla-factory-elon-musk-layoffs-company

If the Guardian report is correct, I’m shocked that Tesla appears to have downgraded quality control.

Despite not containing gasoline or an internal combustion engine, Tesla vehicle components like the large lithium battery packs are potentially very dangerous. The following is a slow motion video of University of Maryland setting fire to a small Lithium battery pack. Around 3:16 in the video (remember the video is slow motion), the battery pack appears to violently explode, though the explosion does not prevent the pack from continuing to burn;

Lithium is an alkali metal, a group of highly flammable metals which sometimes explode violently on contact with water. While Lithium is less reactive than some of its siblings, it is still extremely dangerous. Large Lithium fires are difficult to extinguish. Any explosion caused by trying to douse the fire with water can scatter droplets of molten burning lithium, causing severe heat and chemical burns if the droplets of molten lithium come into contact with exposed flesh.

Assuming the Guardian story is true, I don’t know if firing an entire quality control department is likely to make Tesla cars less safe. But if I was a buyer waiting for delivery of my new Tesla, I would be contacting my Tesla dealership with some fairly urgent inquiries.

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130 thoughts on “The Guardian: Green Car Maker Tesla Just Laid Off a Quality Control Department

  1. Quality control… who needs it when the company will be in chapter 11 and the warranty will be unenforceable?

    • Chapter 7 Liquidation is also a possibility if financing can’t lined up. Banks aren’t stupid after 2008 near death experience many of them faced with their own liquidity.

      Imagine the business model of running a large scale manufacturing operation in the South Bay area. Workers there need lots of compensation just to live there. Plus health care. Making a car in California’s regulatory environment, and then compensating the skilled workforce to live in a high cost of living area, gotta be eating Tesla’s lunch compared to making it in say South Carolina or even Nevada. And now Tesla has strong competition in the EV market.
      Game over.

      • And now Tesla has strong competition in the EV market.
        Game over.

        I’m not sure whether it’s available in America but the Hyundai Ioniq Electric seems to cost less than what Tesla promised but doesn’t seem to be delivering.

        There’s so much noise to signal. I’m confused about what is actually available and what it actually costs.

        BMW and Mercedes seem to be building full electrics. So, that’s the luxury market.

        If the Hyundai isn’t vaporware, that’s the budget market.

        It looks like Tesla might not be as inept as it’s painted. link Having said that, I can’t see how Tesla can weather the competition.

      • Imagine the business model of running a large scale manufacturing operation in the South Bay area.

        This is the third venture in that plant.
        It was originally built by GM (Chevrolet) to make Chevettes in an attempt to break away from the Detroit area. Probably for the reasons Joel cites, they ended up having massive labor problems and an inability to work with the union; finally shuttering the plant.

        In Act II, a delegation of Geo Bush I, labor leaders and car execs went to Japan to get the Japanese government to stop subsidizing manufactures like Toyota and Nissan (who built Datsun autos then) in order to level the playing field. Toyota explained that they had no unusual subsidies; they just made cars with less expense, based on the Toyota Production System. (The term “Lean Mfg” had not been coined yet.) They offered to teach the system to US manufacturers.

        To prove their point, they also proposed a joint venture with GM in the US. The Detroit folks thought they could pull a fast one, and agreed if the plant could be the “labor toxic” Fremont plant.

        The experiment actually worked well for a while, dual branding the Nova. My recollection was that US auto unions slowly crept back into the plant (while the highly successful Georgetown, Kentucky Toyota plant that started up shortly after, was and still is, union free) and combined with a falling market for US cars, the plant closed again.

        Act III of course starts with the entrance of Elon Musk.

        • Was that the plant where GM and Toyota attempted a just-in-time training partnership?
          It failed because the union would not play ball with the Toyota way of auto-manufacture and the GM bureaucracy was to slow to adapt to the necessary changes.
          Toyota gave up and moved to Texas, the rest is history.

        • Re auto manufacturing in California:

          A friend’s husband used to work in a General Motors plant in Southern California. He said if you worked hard, the other employees said you were stupid. He didn’t want to be called stupid.

          GM no longer makes cars there.

    • The Tesla 3 series appears to be going the route of the AMC Pacer.

      For people who don’t know, the AMC Pacer was the funny looking car that Wayne and Garth are driving when they bust out to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody in the classic teen comedy “Wayne’s World.” Oddly, the car is almost always presented in the pop culture as a pure joke, sort of like the Yugo. But nothing could be further from the truth. The car sold extremely well for about a year and a half. There was a waiting list to buy it, demand outstripping supply. It’s just that once all the people who liked the odd look of the car had purchased one, demand for the Pacer dropped to near zero. It was a fad, based on the quircky appearance of the bulbous cabin shape. It was after the car was discontinued due to the lack of demand when people almost universally started mocking the car.

      Because it looks good, I doubt if the S3 will be mocked like the Pacer. But there do appear to be some similarities in the demand curve for the Pacer and the soon to be demand-free Tesla. You’d have to be crazy to spend that kind of money now, for one of these things.

      • The model S, IMHO, looks pretty good. A bit of a Maserati thing going on. The model 3, with the weird duck-bill front, looks terrible.

        • Yeah, they definitely “stole” lines from Maserati.

          …. but on the Pacer, I think some people were buying them because at the end of their usable lifespan, they could be used as a terrarium.

          How is that global warming going by the way? Haven’t seen so much from Stokes or Mosher recently that might keep me informed.

        • I saw a green Model S last night in the parking lot at Food Lion. I thought to myself- that car looks dumpy – wheels were painted black (yuk!) . Was a 75D (75 kWhr battery – the cheapest version of the Model S) Nobody would give that $80,000 car a second glance. Was surprised it looked so nondescript.
          Musk is no Henry Ford Dept : Musk goes on ranting rages while inspecting the production lines, firing people at random. He also fires anyone his spies tell him even mentions the word “union.” The people he fired were he more senior, higher paid workers : those making $26 per hour with several years seniority , leaving $19 per hour interns and new hires. Musk sucks.

          • Tesla will eventually reap what Musk sows. He may be a brilliant marketer, but it’s become obviously he isn’t the right one to run a factory.

            ~¿~

          • You are exactly correct, Schitzree. Musk’s micromanagement of a manufacturing company results in Tesla’s repeating a million mistakes companies have made before. Musk has his ideas of how things should be run. Many are wrong. But even trial and error may not fix it: Musk doesn’t give up on his ideas easily.

            The idea of Tesla is excellent. There is a market for premium electric luxury cars. Tesla can be successful. But I don’t see it happening with Musk in charge.

      • A a fishing/hiking/climbing friend of mine bought a pacer, new.

        He fell for the marketing campaign that showed people having fun in their pacers; plus the big discounts AMC offered to purchasers.

        Pacer owners quickly learned that parking pacers in high density parking lots was a nightmare, as pacer doors were very long. A length resulting from their squashed bulb design and to accommodate the bizarre seat belt system and provide access to the back shelf masquerading as a seat.
        When parking lots restriped their lots to eco-car sizes worsened that parking nightmare. Pacers were wide cars for their length.

        Pacer car widths made for awkward turning circle ability.

        AMC, at the time, had a bad habit of buying surplus/discontinued parts on the discount market, then fitting those parts into their cars. Besides causing significant reliability variability, that discount parts practice made repairing AMCs, including pacers, difficult.

        By their third year, pacers were already rusting out along rocker panels and doors. My salt drenched Mazda truck took longer to rust out than my friends pacer.

        Yes, pacers were a fad aided by a good marketing campaign.
        Yes, once the primary buyers bought pacers, the market dried up.

        Watching pacer owners trying to exit/enter their cars in grocery store parking lots, helped that sales collapse. It was unsurprising to watch pacer drivers enter or exit through their rear hatch.
        Helping that demise was knowing anyone that owned a pacer as they, frequently, waited on repairs to their pacer.

        Many of those original owners of pacers stayed fanatically devoted to their cars for over a decade. Facts or reality never intruded.

      • One of the “car guys” on People’s radio said the only good thing about the Pacer was the rear window was heated so your hands didn’t get cold when you were pushing it.

        I liked the styling myself.

    • Ford told their customers “Quality is job 1”. Musk is telling the world it is well down the list somewhere on page 27 preceded by “make more unrealistic promises, ridiculous publicity stunts, tunneling to the local sports arena, bailing out my favourite solar business, talking policy makers into more handouts and helping the California economy fall into the grave.”

      • Considering what Ford was trying to do as a manufacturer, yes.

        The point of production line manufacturing is that all parts are interchangeable. Tab A needs to go into Slot B to make Part C every single time with no failures or there is no way you can deliver 5000 Part Cs a day.

        So your design team works out the most economically geometric tolerance required on the mating parts that will ensure the parts ALWAYS go together and then your quality team ensures this tolerance is always achieved. Why? Because otherwise the production and assembly stops.

        Quality isn’t just about delivering a shiny product to the end user (although that is nice too), it ensuring your design gets assembled correctly in the first place without having to muck around raising Non Conformance Reports and screwing around with re-work.

        (economical, cause you can achieve anything you want in manufacturing, but then finance starts wanting to talk to you about project budget… 😛 )

  2. What could the dealerships say? They have no say. This layoff is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. If I was waiting for delivery I’d be alarmed about Tesla in general

    • Tesla doesn’t really have dealerships. They have storefronts where they take orders and deliver cars to.

    • Better to demand your deposit back on the grounds of non-delivery. If you wait, you’ll get nothing, just like all the other creditors.

  3. Financial duress, whether individual, family, or business will make you do a lot of crazy stuff that is long-term detrimental.

    I don’t see Tesla surviving. Too many competitors are now making superior EVs with the staying power with other established lines to put him down for good.
    The problem with the short-selling investors who try to short Tesla stock is the timing. Elon probably won’t try the Twitter move again though. After he got the $10 million fine, which was nothing really for him compared to how many short sellers got hosed, the SEC probably told him if he did that again he’d see the inside of a jail cell for a significant while.

    As far as those getting let go now from Tesla, they should count themselves as the lucky ones. They’re out with a decent comp package and a chance to sell the house and move before the Big Lay-offs hit and the implosion starts with no comp packages. Then there’s the Giga battery factory in Reno, with Nevada taxpayers getting hosed with the hand-outs to Tesla to build there.

    • “Then there’s the Giga battery factory in Reno, with Nevada taxpayers getting hosed with the hand-outs to Tesla to build there.”

      Not to mention the Gagafactory in Buffalo, NY, which was supposed to be making lots of roof shingles by now. The cost to NY state, which financed it, is being kicked down the road by embarrassed politicians, but will have to be faced eventually.

    • As we say in the aerospace business, if you are going to be laid off it is best to be the first one.

  4. I wonder if the dozens of Australians who put up an AU$2500 (IIRC) deposit and still have to wait 2 years for delivery know this? I’d be demanding my deposit returned.

    • This could get ugly very quickly… the people who have made deposits will be considered creditors by the court if it goes that direction and will have to wait in line to get a portion of their money back.

      • 3-8 cents on the dollar (6% +/- 2%) is the typical money to un-secured creditors in Chapter 7 liquidation.

        A $3,000 deposit may get $180 back after bankruptcy settlement. If that.

        • I think they’ll try Chapter 11 first. Might even succeed, or appear to, if the California government steps in to continue to pretend to get CO2 out of the atmosphere.

          After all, pretending to get CO2 out of the atmosphere has grown to be a $Trillion/year business. That’s pretty good for doing the square root of f-all on a problem that has turned out not to be a problem.

      • I’ve read that there is a provision in bankruptcy law, that people who were paid shortly before bankruptcy filing can be forced to return what they were paid.
        I don’t know what the time limit is for this clawback provision, but it does put the pressure on depositors to act now, rather than later.

    • The NRMA is boasting about being ‘ready for the electric future’ with 40 fast charging stations.
      The argument is this will save us motorists money.
      The startup, paid by us luckless NRMA members, is $10 million.
      In the back the list price for a new Tesla is $126300, the cheapie is a mere $117900.
      The other one they feature is the BMWi3.
      https://www.caradvice.com.au/637540/bmw-i3s-review-range-anxiety/

      ‘$58,550 – $69,630
      DEALER

      Fuel Economy
      N/A
      Engine Power
      135kW
      CO2 Emissions
      N/A
      ANCAP Rating
      5Stars
      MORE BMW I3

      It’s quirky, bold and fully electric. But is the BMW i3s able to survive a week of commuting without a charge?

      Pros and Cons
      Pros
      Practical, futuristic interior
      Unique looks
      Punchy performance
      Usable real-world range
      Cons
      It’s expensive
      Compact footprint limits practicality
      Range won’t work for everyone
      Did we mention it’s expensive?’

      Enough said.

      • The Sydney Morning Herald’s resident doomsayer, Peter Hannam, drives a BMW i3. He must be on a good wage to afford somewhere to live, I assume in Sydney, pay for food and utilities AND to buy, power and drive an electric car!

  5. Automobiles without quality assurance? What’s the problem here? We don’t need no stinkin’ quality. I’ve only spent 40 years in charge of quality for medical devices, and I can tell you that marketing firmly believes that QA is the profit prevention department.

  6. I would be contacting my Tesla dealership

    I thought Tesla had fewer dealers than quality control workers.

    • I dont think tesla do have dealerships. You order,buy direct from the factory. It’s a way to lower the cost by cutting out the middle man. I think they had some legal issues in some states because by law they had to sell through dealerships.

      • In the US I don’t know. Here in Sydney, Australia, there is a Tesla dealer, with charge stations on site.

  7. Letting go required personnel is a sure indicator that the business is no longer viable as a going concern. Wiping out a whole required department just underscores the point.

    If things were really as we are led to believe, Tesla would be growing to meet demand. In this case, skilled and valuable workers would be redeployed to where they would be even more valuable. Obviously, this is not the case.

    As a side note:
    I have seen several examples where companies have got rid of key people, not under financial duress, but because they just wanted a cheap way to boost profits. They then find out that the key knowledge which makes the company go had walked out the door.

  8. Getting tired of clueless reporters, and overly credulous readers, taking one anecdotal bit of information and making wild extrapolations. Tesla has to meet stringent industry and government regulations along with extreme scrutiny from customers and critics. Tesla simply looked at the data trends for this fellow’s area and found its need to be short lived, and in the ruthless world of auto manufacturing, eliminated. I expect better from posts here, maybe a bit of follow up is called for.

  9. Tesla shares drop sharply after Musk announces CFO Deepak Ahuja is leaving the company
    Shares of Tesla fell about 5 percent after the markets closed Wednesday night.

    Tesla Pickup truck may be unveiled this summer, says CEO Elon Musk.

    • Tesla pickup truck? Excellent idea.

      Employees will need to borrow something to take all their stuff home when they clean out their desks and offices.
      .
      .
      .
      That missing screw is bothersome.

      Production line work is mentally difficult due to its repetitive nature. Line workers go into ‘auto pilot’ and their mind goes elsewhere. Errors are made when the worker is supposed to visually verify (self inspect) the completed task before the work moves on. They look right at their work but don’t see the error. If the error affects a downstream operation, it will be discovered before it reaches the customer. Otherwise, the customer is the one who finds the defect.

      Another problem is when the assembly sequence is complex and the worker is subject to interruptions. There is that “Where was I” moment as the worker goes back on task and a chance for some component to be left out of the sequence.

      Then there are production workers who are just showing up for the paycheck and mailing it in. They don’t give a flying freep about the results of their work. Alert supervisors will identify and get rid of those workers, but their poor or defective results are usually out the door before they are.

      From this article, it seems that Tesla QA depends on an quality audit on finished cars. I don’t know if it’s every car or randomly selected cars. The QA worker is subject to those same error conditions as are the production workers. Given there is much discussion of Tesla Quality problems, whatever they are doing isn’t working well and getting rid of the final audit will certainly not improve their quality

      It takes a while for a company to learn how to make a product and design their assembly processes to guard against the foibles of human assemblers. The long-timers in the auto business – Mercedes, Ford, Toyota, Honda, and so on – have had decades to work on QA, and they still have defects slip through.

      There’s an “Initial Quality Report” for the auto industry that’s put out every year and the best automakers have only a couple of minor defects reported per delivered car. They also have extensive dealership networks so the customer can pop in anywhere and have the problem fixed right away. No biggie, minor annoyances, everyone is pleased overall.

      Tesla hasn’t been in business long enough to work out as many QA bugs as the others and doesn’t have the dealership network to quickly address the defects that are found after delivery. I’d say firing your last line of defense against defects going out the door is a big mistake.

      (See also Mike Ozzane’s 11:30 pm comment below.)
      .
      .
      .
      (I’m headed to a search engine to search on Initial Quality Reports. I’m curious to see where Tesla ranks. Buh-bye!)

      • Musk’s vision was that robots would do all the production line work. He could not get it to work and had to hire people.

    • The person who needs to be laid off is Musk. Would he be picked by any of the major automakers to run Production Operations? He’s brilliant, he’s not a fit for that job.

      My guess is that Musk had some ideas on how he wanted things done that are different from how an experienced production VP would want to run things.

  10. Tesla– the Solyndra of auto making! (Will we find a stash of gold bullion in some warm but abandoned villa owned by Tesla somewhere in Indonesia? We can only hope!)

    • Tesla is the Solyndra of solar panels too. Remember he bought a solar energy company from I think his cousin? (I forget the details but it was very sketchy). It’s losing money hand over fist too.

    • Not really a good analogy. Tesla does not have any unpaid loans from the government that it can default on. It has received some long term tax abatement deals from states where it has established factories, but none of that amounted to a transfer of money to Tesla, rather tax breaks that reduce current and future costs. Plus Tesla has produced and sold products that do what they were designed to do. Many, like myself, don’t find that EVs fit their needs, for various reasons, but I never understood this business of bashing a company because you don’t prefer their product(s) or don’t like their CEO.

        • I could live with a little criticism now and then, but when they gleefully claim that every little slip is a major gaff and predict you will fall and break your neck, that’s over the top and frankly tiring.

  11. “If the Guardian report is correct, I’m shocked that Tesla appears to have downgraded quality control.”

    What’s described is the antithesis of Quality … An ad-hoc repair is made, not recorded and the fault not passed up the line to prevent recurrence. Automotive Quality systems were my job for years what you see there are practices that would doom the company in time irrespective of the particular difficulties of selling electric cars.

    I will bet you that after due diligence no automaker will take it on as a going concern. the warranty and loss potential will be considered too great.

    • Warranty seems to be null and void if Tesla goes bankrupt and loss potential is irrelevant for a company on the brink of insolvency. Tesla has hit the iceberg and those workers who get out now are the lucky ones, with lifeboats in form of some compensation az and.

  12. Tesla laid off 7% and Musk claimed it was to help enable him to build his long-promised $35,000 Model 3.
    But the reality is that Musk discontinued the base Model S and Model X after their sales in Europe were hit hard by the Jaguar I Pace and Porche Taycan (Taycan not yet in production but sold out all first
    year’s output -roughly 45,000 cars – the same as the number of Model S cars built this past year).
    Most of those workers let go worked on the Model S or X, so they reduce salaries but also reduce sales income – doesn’t sound like Tesla will gain much.

  13. Not a fan of Tesla but I take everything in the Gaurdian with a large grain of salt (or 10) and this feels like a hit piece to me. They didn’t lay off the entire quality control department, the laid of THIS guy’s department WITHIN quality control. We have no idea what that actually means. He sounds like he was a front line worker, so that could mean his shift.

    I’ve heard of store fronts being downsized also, so it isn’t just production and staff, it is also customer facing staff in the customer delivery facilities.

    Rumours are running wild that demand has fallen off a cliff in the US for Tesla post full tax credit, and they’re hoping that Europe opening up for them will pick up the slack. So makes sense that they would cut back their customer facing staff in North America in order to bulk up in Europe. I recall that to satisfy some weird rules for Europe, they have to do some amount of manufacturing there, so for all we know some functions are simply being moved to Europe for some percentage of the production, resulting in layoffs here.

    If Tesla were anywhere near as transparent as a publicly traded company ought to be, we’d have some insight into these things. But we don’t so all we’re left with is rumour, innuendo, and conjecture. I doubt they’ve laid of their entire QA department, even Musk isn’t that absurd.

    • davidmhoffer

      [A]lan Ochoa worked at Tesla’s Fremont plant in California for four years. He was laid off recently along with his entire department in quality control, many of whom were also long-time employees. “I have no idea how they expect to run without us,” said Ochoa.

      That is what The Graudian says, nothing obscure to that text. What Allan Ochoa actually does, is described later on with the help of an example.

    • Recent cold winters in Europe must have dented EV sales, as people contemplate being stuck in snow with no heating.

    • “If Tesla were anywhere near as transparent as a publicly traded company ought to be, we’d have some insight into these things.”

      Within ten days or so Tesla will file a 10-Q or 10-K statement with the SEC that will provide more insight into its operations.

    • The Guardian is usually in the tank for anything that masquerades as green.

      For them to be putting out a negative article means the problem is even worse then it seems.

    • Astounding video’s.

      Clearly Tesla as a business, are circling the drain. It’ll be interesting to see how Elon comes out the other end reputation wise. My guess is that his shenanigans of late have been aimed at trying to get himself removed prior to collapse, thus hoping to preserve the Elon myth with the not my fault argument.

      If he’s still at the wheel when this thing implodes, he’ll go from Hero to Zero in the most brutal way possible. The Millennial folk will react exactly as one would expect children to react, no mercy 🙂

  14. Is there a real need for quality control of cars that insurances total for a scratch on a fender that would otherwise cost in the 30’000 $ to fix by officially approved shops?

  15. We’ve had lots of power blackouts here in Sydney in recent weeks, all apparently due to CO2 driven heatwaves from coal burning. The latest today struck 40,000 or so in the affluent eastern suburbs. Apparently, weeds build up around a substation which caused a cable fault.

    https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/massive-power-outage-in-sydney-s-eastern-suburbs-leaves-thousands-in-the-dark-20190131-p50urm.html

    From the article;

    “During the blackout, just before midday on Thursday, it was 32.9 degrees at Observatory Hill, 31.1 degrees on Sydney Harbour and 35.2 degrees at Sydney Airport.”

    Hotter at the airport? No kidding!

    Of course renewable energy enthusiasts claim this would not have happened if we had more renewable energy. They also claim that is everyone had rooftop solar and batteries, no-one would have been affected by the blackout. I do wonder how rooftop solar and batteries would work in a 40 unit/apartment block.

    • This had a ripple effect in the north western suburbs.
      My hotplates started not following instructions and needed rebooting.
      Momentary outages have dropped out the NBN and shut down my computers where not on
      backup battery over the last few days.

    • Stuttgart was notorious for announcing in cold weather 2 to 6 degrees Celsius more than the board outside air temperature instruments during taxi.

      Recently something changed and it got more realistic albeit still 1 to 2 degrees hotter than what we have on the dials.

      It is actually quite a common occurrence about everywhere, some blame poor placement the ground gauges or even effects of jet exhaust.

      • …announcing in cold weather 2 to 6 degrees Celsius more than the board outside air temperature…

        Such a procedure might lead under certain circumstances to t/o miscalculations (density altitude). Dangerous!

        • Our SOP calls for validation by board instrument evolution reading at taxi after push. Germany / EU has some crazy thermometers elsewhere else. AFAIK common practice.

    • Now come on Patrick, have you not heard about “dark energy”? This is a whole new opportunity. Forget about solar panels on roofs, with dark energy you can have panels between floors! Perfect for grabbing all that lovely dark energy to be found below the floor board and any other place that never sees the light of day.
      It’s settled science now, with over 80% of all the substance in the universe hidden in dark energy, we just have to tap into it.
      You don’t think they are thinking of oil and coal by any chance?

      • D’oh! You’ve just identified the energy scam source of the future. And it’s only 15 years away.

        We are on the edge of a breakthrough in Dark Energy.

        👍😆😆😆

      • It was just over 40c, apparently on Sydney’s hottest day of the year. Fairly typical for Sydney’s west, in summer.

    • Patrick MJD said:

      “We’ve had lots of power blackouts here in Sydney in recent weeks, all apparently due to CO2 driven heatwaves from coal burning.”

      Nah. Blame it all on the “green electricity grid”. That’s how we roll round here inni’t?

      • Well, if you have any evidence CO2 from burning coal IS creating heatwaves then please present it.

        No, wait! Don’t bother, I know you don’t have any.

  16. “How do they expect to run without us?’ Tesla accused of axing key staff to cut costs

    Electric car firm slashed 7% of workforce this month and ex-employees say more experienced staff were targeted”
    ___________________________________________________

    elon musk fired 7% of its employees in the third quarter of 2018, in Q3, in order to prove a cost reduction on the stock exchange. By reduced labor costs.

    He will never be able to “buy back” this missing manpower.

    Elon Musk has thus accelerated his Ponzi Scheme to final crash.

  17. The Guardian: Green Car Maker Tesla Just Laid Off a Quality Control Department

    Ironically, back in the days of hot metal The Grauniad was itself constantly mocked in the UK for its own lack of quality control.

    Yet as their spelling improved greatly from days gone by, the quality of their journalism and general thinking ability has actually decreased.

  18. Having spent 30 plus years as an inspector, quality manager, and quality engineer, I know that the quality department manages gauge calibration, non-conforming product & material, provides assistance in designing inspection routines & equipment plus it provides reports to management on how they are doing quality-wise. The actual quality control of product is done by production departments. If they don’t do it, it won’t get done. The typical quality department is very small and it follows that they insure quality in a very small way.

  19. Well, just to bring things into focus, Tesla share price after this announcement went up!
    The world has moved into a new paradigm. What is called global warming now causes incredible cooling and massive snowfall.
    Tesla sacks its final quality control dept, or more likely its post assembly fix crew, and the share price goes up.
    Germany has the most expensive energy of all developed economies in Europe due to green energy focused policies and decides to close all nuclear and coal fired facilities to make the price and reliability of energy supply in the future even worse.
    Go figure.

  20. Getting rid of QA. Bad move as it will likely cost them in the long term with returns of lemons from customers and remedial work on vehicles. With normal cars the remedial work is normally carried out under warrentee
    by main dealers. But Telsa, I think does not have the dealers so who carries out the work?

  21. Tesla’s stock price is based on a belief among shareholders that Tesla is a furlong ahead of the competition. Musk talks about “gigafactories” and a 30% margin on the Model 3. If that was true, it would mean he had a huge lead on all the major car-makers. If that was true.

    He convinced investors that his market share was going to be massive. Musk, being smarter than everyone else, was convinced that production line automation was going to allow him to scale up fast, and would keep costs low. Supposedly production engineers who spent their entire careers designing production lines, and integrating automation into their lines had the formula wrong. But mass production is turning out to be harder than Musk anticipated. And there is no way he was telling the truth about the Model 3 margins. The Model S might be an automotive marvel, but luxury cars are a niche product. It’s not something you need a “gigafactory” to produce.

    I don’t see any evidence that he has a lead in technology — either in electric cars or in automation. And he has a huge disadvantage in scale and depth, going against car-makers who invented mass production and know how to put out hundreds of thousands of units. Tesla engineers are going up against GM, BMW, Volvo, Honda, Ford, and everyone else. Those guys aren’t dummies. It’s a crowded field now, with over 50 electrical cars available for sale.

    Tesla is not going to go out of business anytime soon. Musk has not wanted to go to the capital markets for more funding, but they are certainly able to raise as many billions of dollars as they need.

    • >b>Steve O: “Tesla is a furlong ahead of the competition.”

      According to Wikipedia, on May 14, 2008, the race horse Winning Brew set the Guinness World Record of 2 furlongs in 20.57 seconds. My math says Telse is 10.28 seconds ahead of Winning Brew and possibly its competition.

  22. If the Guardian article and Alan are to be believed then there is something seriously wrong with the way Telsa do manufacturing.

    Alan is suggesting that he is having to do several repairs a day. This suggests two things. First is that there are multiple random errors constantly occurring during assembly, or that the same error is occurring on multiple vehicles. Neither is good. The first implies an overall degree of shoddiness and the second suggests that errors are only being fixed, and no reported but up so the root cause can be identified and either the design or the process modified to eliminate the problem.

    So, while I admit the Guardian is filled with a bunch of code writers in waiting and about as reliable as a political Wikipedia page, I am also someone who can use the word FRACAS in professional conversation. Either the Guardian has no idea what they are reporting, or something is very rotten in the state of Tesla.

    • Either the Guardian has no idea what they are reporting, or something is very rotten in the state of Tesla

      Why limit it to one or the other, both can be true. Even the blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut.

  23. virtue vanity clients will not complain … admitting you are the mark is never easy … and with so much virtue signaling tied up in the purchase very few buyers will complain …

  24. Going immediately luxury when the tech is in development was a huge mistake. Henry Ford and Toyota knew that filling the roads up with an affordable reliable car was the ticket. Then make some classier models when you have cash flow to take advantage of the much smaller market to collect on the high end. Trying to mass produce a car for a relatively tiny market -because it’s both luxury and novel (before the market is comfortable with it) shows hubris is overpowering good business sense.

    Go with a plan to make 10 million Tesla Dune Buggies in which you have to wind your own windows and slam your own trunk and go for extended range for $19,977 plus extras. Someone is going to do this! Think the reverse snobbery of the VW bug. Then with your own money start working on your Tesla Dune Bugatti.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugatti_Veyron

    • That would require a really cheap li-ion battery, which will never happen since the materials (cobalt, lithium…) are intrinsically expensive to produce.

      • tty nonsense. The dune buggy would also use 18kwh packs instead of 75kWh of the cheaper Tesla mod S. Apriori reasoning on this site won’t get you far.

        Cobalt prices have spiked at $40/lb, but are back around $16, their longer term price and new cobalt finds in Canada and elsewhere support the expected in the mining industry that when you look for it, you find more. Tesla itself may have been responsible with the spiking with gigafactories talk.

        Similarly, lithium carbonate (and LiOH•H2O a bit higher) spiked at over $20/kg but sits around half that presently. As with other commodities that develop high demand and prices, the ~half dozen producers that comprised the industry 20yrs ago produced 6,300t/yr of contained lithium. Today, the expanded industry of ~a dozen poroducers puts out 43,000t contained Li and there are over 400 exploration and development projects, once again, the seek and ye shall find nature of the mining industry that Malthusians have never understood.

        • 18kWh. In other words a car that may or may not have enough charge to get to work and back, especially if you have to use the AC or the headlights.

  25. As alread pointed out lithium ion batteries don’t contain lithium metal. Non-rechargeable lithium batteries do.

    The very nasty lithium ion battery fires are caused by the combination of an organic and very flammable electrolyte, a large heat-source when a cell shorts and a tight cell container that will however not withstand a large overpressure.

    The end result is that a large battery pack will in effect behave as a set of thousands of little flame-throwers that may pop off one at a time, or a lot together. This is the reason for the intense, almost gas-welding like flames seen at Li-ion fires as well as the occasional more dramatic “explosions” (really a number of cells bursting together and causing a deflagration).

    • Impurities of transition elements were the main culprit in early fires. New specs are reducing these from ppm to ppb. Heck a bunch of lead acid batteries with that level of power would be even less fun. The idea of huge storage units for renewables are essentially a bomb.

  26. In my experience with quality control, it isn’t quality control’s job to inspect every nut, bolt, screw etc and it REALLY isn’t Quality Control’s job to repair deficiencies.

    If this guy was just fixing things like missing screws and incorrectly assembled parts, he wasn’t doing Quality Control, he was just another part of the assembly line.

    Quality Control’s role *should* be to inspect for deficiencies in the assembly process and, when deficiencies are identified, effect remedial action. You know…*control* quality.

    Remedial action could be anything from changes in the assembly process, improved tools and techniques, changes in line speed or even replacing less than diligent assembly personnel if needed.

    Just fixing the mistakes they find and moving on, doesn’t improve the process to reduce the number of mistakes, and they can never hope to catch them all.

    1. I’d say they were right to get rid of the QC department. It was a fool’s errand anyway, they were wasting their money.

    2. If that’s Tesla’s idea of quality control, I wouldn’t take one of their cars if you gave it to me. I can see why they’ve “suffered quality control setbacks in the past”

    ***Disclaimer: All of my QA experience has been in Aviation Maintenance. I grant that QA is a bit more important in aviation than in ground transportation…a loose fascia doesn’t cause a Tesla to fall out of the sky from 30k feet…however I can’t imagine the principles are that different. Perhaps I’m just ignorant about the auto industry and they all do it that way.

  27. Tesla dropped 13 dollars this morning right off the bat on this news. Now 18 minutes later it is only down around 1 dollar. Lots of resilience in Tesla stock.

  28. “He was laid off recently along with his entire department in quality control, many of whom were also long-time employees. “I have no idea how they expect to run without us,” said Ochoa.”

    Laying off an entire quality control department does not make sense to ‘save’ money. The quality control department fixes problem to ensure products are safe.

    Tesla cars have had three times the number of deaths than other comparable luxury cars.

    You guys are missing the real story. Tesla’s, Quality Control department, knows where the skeletons are.

    “Sometimes I can’t park it in my driveway because it says I’m going 20mph while stopped and won’t let me park. I can be driving on the highway and the screen will freeze.”

    There are Tesla owner reports of car doors opening while driving. That type of problem if there is a death brings a lawsuit.

    If there are lawsuits senior members of the Quality Control department would be subpoenaed. When did you know of so and so problem? What action did you take? Where their other problems?

    Tesla is a drive by wire car that has a very, very complicated computer control system and set of sensors.

    Tesla is different than an ugly Pacer. Tesla is a very, very complex car that without ,Tesla the company, might not be safe to drive or might not be possible to drive.

    https://medium.com/@MidwesternHedgi/teslas-driver-fatality-rate-is-more-than-triple-that-of-luxury-cars-and-likely-even-higher-433670ddde17

    “Tesla’s mortality rate (41 deaths per million vehicle years) is so much higher than the average luxury car (13 deaths per million vehicle years) that when comparing the two, the difference is hugely statistically significant. The difference is 28 additional deaths per million vehicle years, with a confidence interval of 11 to 63, and a p-value of 0.0001.

    Remember that, unless California Tesla driver deaths magically went to zero in 2016 as Tesla increased production, and unless there were zero unreported deaths in the rest of the world, the true value for Tesla’s fatality rate is likely even higher. Regardless, Musk’s assertions that Tesla is the “safest vehicle” on the road or “four times better than average” are ridiculous untruths. Tesla’s driver fatality rate was massively higher than luxury peers, and at least 37% higher than the average 2011–2014 car. Musk’s “safest vehicle” on the road claim is as phony as his 2016 solar neighborhood.”

    • These numbers are terrible. Thanks a lot for that very valuable info. It will frighten the sh*t out of many.

    • Well, I think it would be more appropriate to compare Teslas with sports cars than luxury cars, because that is basically what they are. The safety issue with all such cars is the firmware installed in the computer a few inches in front of the headrest.

  29. Rabid fans have been snapping up Tesla vehicles for years while overlooking quality control problems associated with windshields, computer display, paint, trim fit and finish, and excessive/misaligned gaps between adjoining parts. Why should Tesla be concerned now about QC?

  30. Alan Ochoa worked at Tesla’s Fremont plant in California for four years. He was laid off recently along with his entire department in quality control, many of whom were also long-time employees.
    ********************************************************
    so…4 years is considered long time employee?

  31. Tesla is an interesting story that is gaining momentum.

    It was announced this Wednesday, that the Tesla chief finance officer’s is ‘retiring’ just two years after rejoining the business.

    The vice president of customer service left Tesla this September. See below for other senior staff who have left.

    “Mr Musk had already warned of a challenging period ahead when he wrote to employees this month to announce job cuts of 7 per cent. He said then that Tesla was targeting “a tiny profit” in the first quarter, which it would only make “with great difficulty, effort and some luck”.

    https://www.ft.com/content/91d3d6fa-24b9-11e9-8ce6-5db4543da632

    Tesla’s troubles mount as finance chief quits

    David Tamberrino, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, wrote on Thursday that a change of CFO “may cause some uncertainty for investors” given the company’s challenges in the coming year.”

    https://electrek.co/2018/06/14/tesla-vp-of-worldwide-service-leaves/

    Karim Bousta, Tesla’s ‘Vice-President of Worldwide Service and Customer Experience’, left the automaker this week.

    https://www.autoblog.com/2018/09/20/tesla-vp-of-global-supply-management-reportedly-resigns/
    Tesla’s vice president of global supply management, Liam O’Connor, has resigned, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

    The departure of O’Connor, who joined Tesla in March 2015 from Apple, follows the exit of a string of senior executives, including Chief Accounting Officer Dave Morton and Chief People Officer Gabrielle Toledano.

  32. People have been predicting the imminent demise of Tesla since its inception. The last year or two has been the worst. But because I’m a contrarian, and think that betting against Elon Musk is generally a losing proposition, I’m betting that Tesla will still be around this time next year, and no, not in receivership.

  33. Anything written in the “guardian” should be treated with great care. They are totally focused on manipulating the left wing agenda.

  34. Solar City, SpaceX, and Tesla all laid of workers. The Boring Company has what turns out to be a questionable product that doesn’t come close to promises …. it’s a slow speed car tube that will be seriously impacted by the loading/unloading cycles and not a high speed vacuum transport capable of moving groups of people at high speeds. Solar City is in a death spiral and Tesla is trying to join. Silicone Valley has a penchant for flaming out entrepreneurs and Musk is no different. All visionary, yet arrogant and don’t know when to stop taking bigger bites and complete chewing what they have.

  35. Worked for a major Turbine Package manufacturer that had made a similar management decision. Our products were know world wide for been bullet proof when delivered from our factory. The customers used to hook up the power inputs, either the generator outputs or the compressor piping and the fuel line and the units would fire up and run just about every time. During this period the company had 1 quality control person for every 3 people on the manufacturing floor with a rigorous sign off check sheet that was stamped off by all parties. Decision was made to reduce costs and they went to 1 Quality control person for 20 people on the floor. CHAOS. When the units arrived in the field we poor commissioning guys were suddenly having to complete the installation of package systems that were not complete or installed wrong. Our part failure rate for commissioning jumped by 250% as the rigorous In factory package testing was also reduced. The reason for these changes was that we built such a great product we did not need the amount of quality control and testing that we were doing. The company almost went broke because of the CHAOS. The worst problem was trying to get upper management to relies that there was a problem. The field groups and remote districts were eating the rework and repairs NOT the factory so out of sight out of mind was the higher ups way of running things. It took a large slump in sales before someone woke up to the fact that something was wrong. After a large investigation into all the problems the factory increased the Quality control department but it took 5 years of pain to root out all those that had caused the grief in upper management.

  36. The real issue facing Tesla owners will be that the company has always insisted on having total control over sales of spares, so if it goes down the tubes maintenance could become difficult. I guess someone might buy up the stock and start supplying it, but who knows. I’m not in the market for one, but that is an issue which would make me think carefully.

  37. If you can, buy anyone of these cars. Seal it up and store it for say 40 years. After that it will be worth possibly millions.

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