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Layoffs, Victories, and Recalls - Tesla's Day of Highs and Lows Featured

Layoffs, Victories, and Recalls - Tesla's Day of Highs and Lows Dan Burton

Tesla experienced both highs and lows on February 16, 2023 - as their name splashed across headlines that saw wins and losses for the electric car manufacturer.

In the early hours of the day Bloomberg announced that roughly 30 Autopilot Analyst in their Buffalo, NY office - known as Gigafactory 2 were laid off one day after expressing their intention to form a union. The Workers United union alleged these firings were a direct result of the announcement and have since filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board – as it’s illegal under United States Federal Law for a company to retaliate against an organizing union.

“The terminations are ‘designed to terrify everyone about potential consequences of them organizing, as well as to attempt to cull the herd’”, Jaz Brisack, a Workers United organizer told Bloomberg.

Since the news was reported Tesla has stated that the layoffs had nothing to do with the union announcement and were part of a routine performance review.

This isn’t the first complaint of anti-union retaliation against Tesla and their CEO Elon Musk. In 2019, a California judge found Tesla guilty of several violations of the law including an unlawful tweet from Musk that was anti-union. Despite its illegality – the tweet is still up on the social media platform, Twitter – that is also owned Musk.

Towards the afternoon while workers were still reeling from the layoffs – Tesla was still making headlines – but this time for a much more favorable reason. For the first time, Tesla surpassed BMW as the leader in luxury brands in the United States – and it wasn’t even close.

Experian, in partnership with Automotive News found that Tesla had just over 484K new vehicle registrations in 2022 – jumping a whopping 41% from 2021. BMW, the leader in 2021 saw a 4% decline year-over-year (YoY) with just under 328K new registrations.

Luxury sales are important for automakers as they pad profits for the year. Experian data showed that the luxury car business – although still healthy did see a dip from last year to the tune of 3.5%. Car manufacturers have had a rough time over the past few years. First, many automakers reduced their new-vehicle production due to supply chain issues during the pandemic. Then, a chip shortage all but halted car production seeing car prices surge.

Tesla hardly got a chance to celebrate their victory as a few hours later they announced a recall of over 362K self-driving vehicles due to a high crash risk. Tesla’s self-driving cars are installed with an experimental software that was originally thought to be safe.

According to a safety recall report found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, the FSD Beta system allowed cars to “act unsafe around intersections, such as traveling straight through an intersection while in a turn-only lane, entering a stop sign-controlled intersection without coming to a complete stop, or proceeding into an intersection during a steady yellow traffic signal without due caution.” Not only that, but the post stated that it may have trouble adapting to changes in speed limits.

Musk, unhappy with the word “recall” stated in a tweet that the word was “anachronistic and just flat wrong.” For most automakers – a recall would mean owners would have to cease driving the vehicle and bring them to their local dealership for an updated part before they were safe to drive. Tesla however can fix the potentially disastrous situation with an over-the-air software update.

As the day ended – Tesla saw their stock fall from a daily high of $217 to just under $202.

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Danielle Loughnane

Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has been working in the marketing and data science field since 2015.

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