Tesla Starts Rehiring Supercharger Team After Mass Layoffs

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Key Takeaways

  • Tesla has begun rehiring nearly 500 members of its Supercharger team after significant layoffs, including Director Max de Zegher.
  • The layoffs, attributed to a strategic need for cost-cutting amid declining sales, followed Tesla's first quarterly decline in four years.
  • Despite initial cuts, Tesla remains committed to expanding its Supercharger network, with Elon Musk pledging over $500 million for this effort.

Tesla has begun rehiring the nearly 500 members of its Tesla Supercharger team after a significant layoff last month.

Among those brought back was Max de Zegher, the Director of North American Charging. He was laid off alongside the Supercharger team.

This information was confirmed by people with knowledge of the matter, although they asked not to be identified.

The Tesla Charging X account thanked site hosts and suppliers for their patience while restructured internally, and de Zegher reposted the message.

How many employees have been rehired after the massive layoff is unclear. So far, de Zegher is the only confirmed return.

Background for Layoffs

In April 2024, Tesla laid off over 10% of its 144,000 employees, equating to around 14,000 jobs. CEO Elon Musk has stated that Tesla needs to trim off people to boost the company’s “next phase of growth.”

By the end of April, reports confirmed that the layoffs included the entire Supercharger team, virtually around 500 people, alongside two key executives: Max de Zegher and Rebecca Tinucci, Senior Director of the Supercharger business.

The layoffs followed Tesla’s first quarterly decline in four years, with the company delivering 386,810 cars in Q1 2024 (-8% compared with Q1 2023). Musk attributed this drop to shipping diversions and arson. Revenues also fell short of Wall Street analyst estimates, reaching $21.3 billion (a 55% drop in profits).

The combination of reduced sales, lower profits, and increased competition from other EV manufacturers contributed to a sense of urgency for restructuring and cost-cutting.

The EV industry environment has also been recently impacted by outside variables, such as the Biden administration’s intentions to increase tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles by up to 100%.

This action aims to support American manufacturers and promote domestic renewable energy projects by incentivizing consumers and companies to choose local products by raising the cost of Chinese EVs. Lessening the competition from Chinese EV imports may help Tesla indirectly by promoting a more self-sufficient, sustainable energy sector in the US.

Historical Precedents of Musk’s Reversals

This isn’t the first time that Musk-owned companies have been involved in impulsive cost-cutting measures, only to reverse them later. For instance:

  • Twitter, 2022: When Musk took over Twitter (now X) in 2022, the social media company laid off around 3,700 employees. However, X then reached out again to dozens of employees, stating that they were fired in error or that they were essential to Musk’s changes.

The Supercharger Network

One of Tesla’s most important assets is its network of Superchargers. The network started in September 2012, shortly after Tesla started making the Model S car. As of Q4 2023, there were nearly 6,000 stations and over 54,000 connectors worldwide.

Tesla’s approach has been based on expanding the network to make things easier for Tesla owners and set standards for the industry.

In the past year, Tesla has done a lot to make its Supercharger plugs the industry standard by making deals with big automakers to let their customers use its network. This move has strengthened Tesla’s standing in the market and made its charging infrastructure more useful.

This is why the broader industry was stunned by the layoffs, given the importance of the network.

Musk stated that Tesla still plans to grow its Supercharger network, but it will do so more slowly for new sites, emphasizing maintaining 100% uptime and expanding current sites.

He also pledged to spend “well over $500 million” to expand the Supercharger network this year.