Tesla may not be in the roller coaster business, but it’s starting to feel like the company is strapped into one.
The latest twist comes as Tesla issued a blistering statement that goes beyond denying claims it was undercounting injuries to slam the published report as an “ideologically motivated attack by an extremist organization working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign against Tesla.”
“The report suggests Tesla doesn’t accurately track injuries or that we mislabeled or undercounted injuries to make our record look better than it actually is,” the company wrote. “We believe in transparency and would never intentionally misrepresent our safety record to our employees or the public.”
The report in question was published yesterday by Reveal, a publication from The Center for Investigative Reporting, which is a nonprofit journalism organization whose numerous prestigious honors include being a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winning an Emmy. The story about Tesla’s working condition was co-sponsored by Bay Area public broadcaster KQED, which is again not typically known as a front for radicalism.
Simply put, Reveal claimed Tesla was not recording some injuries as “workplace injuries” in order to improve its safety record:
Under fire for mounting injuries, Tesla recently touted a sharp drop in its injury rate for 2017, which it says came down to meet the auto industry average of about 6.2 injuries per 100 workers. But things are not always as they seem at Tesla. An investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that Tesla has failed to report some of its serious injuries on legally mandated reports, making the company’s injury numbers look better than they actually are.
The war of words erupted just before Tesla announced it was halting production on its troubled Model 3. The company has bet big on this version, and its production numbers have fallen well short of projections, causing some analysts to assert that the company is going to hit a financial wall this year if it doesn’t raise at least $2 billion.
Founder Elon Musk attempted to squash those fears by insisting in a recent tweet that skeptics were wrong and that the company would be profitable in Q3 and Q4 this year.
That assertion was followed last Friday by an interview with Musk on CBS Morning News in which he acknowledged that he’d made a mistake in trying to rely too much on robots to produce the Model 3. The result is that Tesla is hiring like mad to expand the number of humans building the cars.
But that ramp-up and Musk’s boasts hit another apparent roadblock on Monday when the company confirmed it was shutting down production for 4 to 5 days. A Tesla spokesperson told Reuters the production pause was planned: “These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates.”
Still, that’s going to eat into the production average. At this point, we may not get a completely clear picture of Tesla’s financial health until late summer, when the company reports Q3 earnings. If Tesla still hits its production goals and turns a profit, all will be forgiven and forgotten by investors.
If not, expect the next plunge to be even steeper.