Tesla has laid off about 200 employees of its Autopilot driver-assistant system unit, just weeks after chief executive Elon Musk told managers he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy.
Musk said the maker of electric cars needed to cut staff by about 10%, adding that the layoffs would apply only to salaried workers.
He expected paid-hourly staff numbers to grow but the Tesla layoffs at Autopilot employee affected mostly hourly workers.
“Tesla clearly is in a major cost-cutting mode,” Raj Rajkumar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, said.
“The Tesla layoffs likely indicate that 2Q 2022 has been pretty rough on the company due to the shutdown in Shanghai, raw material costs and supply chain problems.”
Anti-pandemic measures in Shanghai have depressed Tesla’s production there.
One laid-off employee said: “It was definitely kind of numbing. Yeah, we’re definitely shocked; we’re definitely blindsided.”
Many of the laid-off employees work on data annotation – reviewing and labelling various visuals collected from Tesla vehicles to teach the cars’ Autopilot system how to handle certain kinds of road scenarios.
A number of employees affected by the Tesla layoffs said on Linkedin on Tuesday that they had been laid off.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell