Tesla lays off about 200 workers in its autopilot division: report

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Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla has reportedly laid off nearly 200 workers in its autopilot division, shutting down its office in San Mateo, California, where they worked.

Most were hourly workers, and many of them were data annotation specialists, Bloomberg reported, citing sources close to the matter.

Tesla chief Elon Musk had said earlier this month that he has a “super bad feeling” about the economy.

In a message to executives, titled “pause all hiring worldwide”, he had said that about 10 per cent of jobs at the electric car manufacturer needs to be cut, but added he would be increasing hourly jobs.

The email itself came two days after the Tesla tycoon told staff in a live stream address to return to the workplace or leave, adding that “exceptional” employees might get a pass.

While the multibillionaire has echoed the voices of other tech industry chiefs in the last month, warning about the risk of recession, the email in early June was one of the most direct messages ordering a hiring freeze and staff cuts.

He had also said the company’s factories in Berlin and Austin were losing billions of dollars due to the supply issues in China.

“Both Berlin and Austin factories are gigantic money furnaces right now. It’s really like a giant roaring sound, which is the sound of money on fire,” Mr Musk had said in an interview last week with the Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley.

About 300 employees reportedly worked at the San Mateo office. Following the recent lay off, the team is left with only 81 workers.

They worked in low-wage jobs, such as autopilot data labeling, which involves finding if Tesla’s AI algorithm identified objects well, TechCrunch reported.

Tesla did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

Reports of layoffs at the electric vehicle manufacturer have already started surfacing.

More than 500 of its employees in Nevada were terminated – a move that workers allege breaches federal law, Reuters reported.

While Tesla did not comment to Reuters, Mr Musk called the lawsuit “trivial” in a talk at the Qatar Economic Forum, adding that people should “not read too much into a pre-emptive lawsuit that has no standing”.

Electrek reported last week that the company laid off both the president of its LGBT+ community and a lead involved in diversity and inclusivity programs, amid several comments made by the company chief about what he describes as the “woke mind virus.”

The company also reportedly let go of a software engineer last month who had been working at Tesla for four years and had been promoted thrice.