SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

In surprise move, Musk axes the team building Tesla’s EV charging network

May 2, 2024, 9:17 AM

SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 15: A view of Tesla Superchargers on February 15, 2023 in San Raf...

SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 15: A view of Tesla Superchargers on February 15, 2023 in San Rafael, California. Electric car company Tesla is partnering with the U.S. federal government to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the United States. Tesla announced plans to open an estimated 7,500 of its Tesla Superchargers in the country to all brands of electric vehicles by the end of 2024. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CNN) Tesla has abruptly fired the team running its electric vehicle charging business, raising doubts about the future of one of the largest U.S. charging networks, which other carmakers, such as General Motors and Ford, have said they will also use.

In social media posts Tuesday, several Tesla employees confirmed the layoffs, first reported by The Information.

Tesla “has let our entire charging org go,” William Navarro Jameson, strategic charging programs lead at Tesla, wrote on X.

A lack of charging infrastructure is one of the main barriers to widespread EV adoption, and Tesla’s extensive “Supercharger” network has long been a major selling point for its vehicles. Until recently, that network could only be used by Tesla vehicles.

Competitors blindsided

In a post on LinkedIn, Lane Chaplin, a senior manager in Tesla’s charging division, wrote: “In the middle of the night, I learned, along with all my #Tesla Global #Charging colleagues, the Tesla Charging org is no more.”

But, following an invitation by Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, virtually every big automaker in the United States committed to making EVs compatible with Tesla’s charging technology, now known as the North American Charging Standard.

In response, major EV charging providers such as Electrify America and EVgo have also announced they will begin building chargers with NACS cables.

“What this means for the charging network, NACS and all the exciting work we were doing across the industry, I don’t yet know,” Jameson wrote in his post.

Tesla has not responded to CNN’s request for comment. Musk said on X on Tuesday that the company “still plans to grow the Supercharger network, just at a slower pace for new locations and more focus on 100% uptime and expansion of existing locations.”

In a statement shared with CNN, Electrify America reiterated its plans to have NACS chargers available next year. General Motors said its plans to transition to NACS remain unchanged. “We are continuing to monitor the situation regarding changes to the Supercharger team and the potential impacts,” the company added in a statement.

‘Reading the room’ on EV demand

Gene Munster, a managing partner at Deepwater Asset Management, said the move “shows Tesla does not see charging as a competitive advantage.”

“Since they opened up the network, it’s no longer to the company’s benefit to advance charging because it also helps their competitors,” he told CNN. “Tesla’s North Star is now (autonomous driving), and that’s where the resources are going.”

According to Dan Ives, a senior analyst at Wedbush Securities, “Musk is reading the room around softer EV demand globally.”

“Tesla is going through a… demand storm and unfortunately strategic changes are needed to get the train back on the tracks,” he told CNN, but added: “Removing the whole department is a head-scratcher.”

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In surprise move, Musk axes the team building Tesla’s EV charging network