Elon Musk is also not good at managing Tesla

With Elon Musk’s continued ineptitude as head of Twitter, it’s easy to forget that the company that made him famous, Tesla, is riddled with scandals, lies, and even deaths. .

Source: Jacobin Mag, Branko Marcetic
Translated by readers of the Les-Crises website

Tesla CEO Elon Musk addresses guests at the Offshore Northern Seas 2022 (ONS) meeting in Stavanger, Norway on August 29, 2022. (Carina Johansen/NTB/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the disastrous start of billionaire Elon Musk’s Twitter reign late last year, observers have been happy to point to the dizzying plunge in Tesla’s stock price that accompanied it. It’s clear that Musk’s fixation on the social media platform, and his disastrous handling of it, has dented investor confidence in his once-successful “self-driving cars” business.

But let’s not forget that there may be another culprit: the proliferation of deaths and lawsuits around the company.

About 765,000 Tesla cars are equipped with the company’s so-called “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” systems and are driving on US roads today, a shocking example of the mass human beta testing in which we participate. all without our knowledge. In the year ending July 2022, Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot software were involved in 273 crashes, according to data from regulators, or 70% of the 392 crashes involving all advanced systems driving assistance. Shockingly, regulators discovered that Tesla cars used to shut down about a second before the crash. That’s why regulators have ordered automakers to disclose all crashes where this type of software was used within thirty seconds of impact, to prevent them from using this flaw to underreport the their accidents.

The situation became so bad that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating the software last year, after Autopilot-equipped Tesla cars crashed into parked emergency vehicles, often at night. and despite the flashing lights, cones and various alerts. In the middle of last year, thirty-nine of the forty-eight crashes on NHTSA’s completely separate list of special accident investigations involved Tesla vehicles, killing nineteen people, and passed by agency is in the final stages of its investigation before possibly issuing a recall. In one such accident, the Tesla just crashed into a motorcycle in front of it, killing the driver, one of many such cases mounting.

Part of the problem is that Tesla’s “self-driving” cars don’t drive themselves and require, as the company’s website states, the constant supervision of a “fully attentive” driver. », hands on the wheel. The other part of the problem is that you wouldn’t know it from reading the company’s marketing materials or the public statements of its famous CEO, who talked about software that allows you to get around “without touching the steering wheel.” and the driver. “doing nothing” because “the car is driving itself” – which probably explains why some of the drivers involved in these crashes are watching a movie or playing a video game on their phone.

Predictably, Musk and his company have been sued over these and other scandals. The families of two of the victims filed lawsuits alleging the Tesla vehicles were defective, lacked automatic emergency braking, and “suddenly and unintentionally accelerated at an excessive, dangerous and uncontrolled speed.” “. A class action lawsuit launched last year accused Tesla of falsely advertising its self-driving technology since 2016, portraying it as fully functional or close to being so, while another sued to Musk for repeatedly claiming that a fully self-driving car is just one or two away, the claims dating back to 2015. The other class action cites the issue of cars stalling for non-existent barriers and faulty door handles that fall off after a few years.

Other lawsuits allege that all is not well at Tesla at the production line level. The company has been the subject of at least ten lawsuits, including one from the state of California, over allegations of widespread and shocking racial discrimination at its factory in Fremont, California, including the regular use of slurs on race and the segregation of black workers into segregated areas. Another lawsuit alleges that Musk wielded improper influence on Tesla’s board of directors, which he used to obtain an exorbitant salary.

So yes, Musk’s inability to run Twitter has definitely hurt the company that made him famous in the first place. But that company itself is riddled with scandal and gross incompetence, reminding us that genius CEO Musk’s reputation was questionable long before he got involved in social media.


Branko Marcetic is a Jacobin editor and the author of Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden [L’homme du passé : le dossier contre Joe Biden, NdT]. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Source: Jacobin Mag, Branko Marcetic, 07-01-2023

Translated by readers of the Les-Crises website

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