Skip to main content

A new day, a new Tesla story. This time, Elon Musk and his company laid off hundreds of workers on the Tesla Autopilot team. But don’t worry, everything is fine. Tesla Autopilot and Full Self-Driving are working so well that the team doesn’t need hourly workers.

The Tesla Autopilot team lost hundreds of employees this week

The Tesla Autopilot team lost 200 workers this week
A Tesla Model 3 featuring Tesla Autopilot or Full Self-Driving | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

While Musk has remained steadfast that Tesla Autopilot and Full Self-Driving are all working as intended and improving daily, the news coming out of the offices disagrees. Bloomberg reports that around 200 people on the Tesla Autopilot team were laid off this week, most of which were hourly workers. In recent news, Musk said he would be letting go of mostly salaried staff and increasing hourly workers on the team.

Musk has been in the news even more than usual for non-Tesla-related items, such as his assistance in buying Twitter. When that deal seemed to sour right away, Musk stepped away from his Twitter account and started wreaking havoc in his own offices.

The fired staff mainly were working on “evaluating customer vehicle data related to the Autopilot driver-assistance features and performing so-called data labeling.” The team had around 350 staff members, some of which were recently moved to a different location.

This Tesla Autopilot team was working on labeling images and sign interpretation

Tesla has around 100,000 workers in its various factories around the world right now. Musk said that layoffs were “necessary” in the shaky economic world where Tesla is currently operating. He promised to lay off 10% of salaried workers in the next few months, but said the cuts would continue.

Bloomberg suggests that these areas where the laid-off employees worked were growing too fast. Some of the workers let go had only been there for a few weeks. In the job postings, the automaker said the data workers would be handling were part of the “critical ingredient for training powerful Deep Neural Networks, which help drive the Tesla vehicles autonomously.” These workers were helping label images the Tesla vehicles interpreted while driving, like street signs.

Thanks to all of the issues Tesla is having with its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, it has been in the news daily. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has an ongoing investigation into accidents that occurred while the vehicles had Tesla Autopilot of Full Self-Driving enabled. It seems like if there was an area to have too many staff members working, it might be this one.

Tesla has been focusing on the Cybertruck and new Gigafactory construction

This was planned all along; according to a CNBC article, the San Mateo office was reaching the end of its lease. Tesla planned to shift workers would to another office, but not everyone received that deal. Tesla asked staff to leave the office immediately and leave laptops and badges before doing so.

As usual, nothing is wrong if you ask Tesla. There are mixed signals coming out of Tesla offices, however close it is to fully autonomous driving. The team has been working on the Tesla Cybertruck and new factories lately, but the cracks are starting to show.

Each report seems to directly contradict Elon Musk, which makes you wonder how well Tesla Autopilot development is going. You can buy Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot for $6,000 right now or add Full Self-Driving Capability for $12,000. No word on how well either one is reading signs anymore, though.


Why Are Tesla Electric Vehicles Not Eligible for the Tax Credit?