Tesla's Supercharger Team Shakeup: Firings, Rehiring, and Future Prospects

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla recently fired the entire Supercharger team, including Tesla’s head of charging – Rebecca Tinucci, after she pushed back on the extreme layoffs that took place right before the cut.

The Supercharger team consisted of over 500 employees, at least after the initial layoffs. In the following days and weeks, Tesla began to rehire some of the employees that it had fired.

Some Damage Done

In the immediate aftermath of the firing of the Supercharger team, contractors and site planners were left bewildered, with no contact from the Supercharger team that was responsible for payment, planning, and decision-making.

As this has played out, new Supercharger deployments have been reduced – stations that were already being built are being completed, but no new announcements have been made since t

It was dire news at the time - but it isn’t all bad.

Returning Employees

Now, more and more of the employees that were fired are beginning to return to Tesla, some of whom are announcing that they were asked to return to Tesla in their previous capacities.

George Bahadue, Senior Manager of Site Acquisition and Business Development commented on LinkedIn:

“Two weeks ago, I was asked to return to Tesla in my previous capacity heading up the business development and site acquisition for Tesla charging – I accepted.”

His reasoning to accept the position was a quote from Rebecca Tinucci:

“You work at Tesla because you hope to have at least a small impact on our collective future – aspirationally, to leave the world better for our children and grandchildren and their children and grandchildren – by accelerating the transition to sustainable energy. And that mission is too important to allow any distractions.”

New Stations Could be Coming Soon

With the restaffing of the Supercharger team, especially with the return of George Bahadue, we can expect that new Supercharger sites may be announced in the coming weeks, as the ripple effect from the layoffs begins to settle.

The rehiring of experienced staff suggests that Tesla and Elon Musk are still committed to the vision of maintaining and expanding its Supercharger network – the largest and most reliable charging network in North America, which is crucial for the mission to move the world to renewable energy.

Optimus - What We Learned About Tesla's Robotic Future

By Karan Singh
Optimus Gen 2
Optimus Gen 2
Tesla

Optimus was a major point of coverage at the 2024 Tesla Shareholder meeting, and we’ll help break down some of the key points for those interested in Tesla’s future humanoid robots.

What Is It?

Optimus is Tesla’s humanoid robot, built entirely in-house, from the batteries to the motors and actuators in the arms, legs, and hands. Tesla has taken a unique design approach to Optimus and intends to have it replace humans in mundane or risky tasks.

It is a bipedal robot, built around the same aspect as the human body. Optimus was originally unveiled in August 2021 and has since seen several major design iterations. And those aren’t the only ones, Optimus is scheduled to undergo at least one more major design revision this year, as well as one more major design revision for its hands – which will feature 22 degrees of freedom.

In comparison, the human hand has 27 degrees of freedom – Tesla is quite close to replicating the complexity of a hand in its custom-designed hands. Musk mentioned that with the 22 degrees of freedom, Optimus is capable of learning and playing music on a piano – an intricate task that many humans find difficult today.

Best of all, they’ve placed the immense learning prowess of FSD behind its brains – each Optimus unit runs similar hardware and software as Tesla cars . It can also navigate autonomously, using the same object recognition and learning that Tesla’s cars use every day. Optimus learns from watching humans do things or can be taught how to do something by a remote operator. Elon Musk also mentioned that it will eventually be able to watch a video and learn how to do a task.

What Can It Do?

Elon Musk has mentioned that Optimus’ primary goal is to replace humans in certain tasks, especially those that could put a human at risk. This could be anything from being a humanoid companion or caretaker, a construction worker, or even working in factories. Of course, it has a focus on high-precision tasks, owing to its intricately designed hands, and is intended to replace human workers doing everyday precision work that robots today cannot do.

The primary goal is to have Optimus robots begin working in factories, and to this end, two have been deployed to one of Tesla’s factories, and are working on the battery cell assembly lines in a prototype and testing deployment. Today, these two units are moving battery cells off the production line and into shipping containers.

2:1 Robot to Human Ratio

There are some ambitious plans for Optimus – Elon Musk envisions that there will be 2 humanoid robots for every human on the planet in the future. This is alongside an eye-watering build rate of 1 billion humanoid robots a year – of which Tesla intends to build at least 100 million per year or more.

With these numbers, Tesla sees the market cap for Optimus as double that of FSD – approximately $20 trillion, with an expected profit of $1 trillion per year at scale. That’s an expected profit of $10,000 per unit, which will be quite the achievement.

When’s It Coming?

Given the fact that Tesla still has design revisions planned, scale production isn’t starting anytime soon. However, Elon Musk did mention that Tesla currently plans to have approximately 1000 to 2000 Optimus units deployed for internal use in Tesla factories by the end of next year. This limited production run will be the start of Tesla’s larger Optimus deployments and will serve to help them refine the FSD stack that runs Optimus, helping teach it the many tasks it could do in a factory.

Costs

The next big question is what it will cost. Musk has mentioned that it will cost less than a car – with an expected cost of $20,000 USD, once large-scale production kicks off. Just like the Cybertruck, that means initial adopters will be faced with fairly high adoption costs for the initial production runs. Economies of scale will eventually lower the cost as more units are produced.

One of Tesla’s significant challenges will be scaling to reduce these costs. Currently, each unit is hand-built in Tesla’s Optimus labs. Eventually, this will have to scaled up to a proper production line, which will require a factory. Optimus also uses 4680 cells, which means some production of the newer 4680 batteries will be required to produce Optimus.

So perhaps, someday soon, there will be an Optimus knocking on your door, delivering itself to help you take care of your home. Definitely a bright future to look forward to.

A Better Routeplanner 5.0 Launches; Adds EV Charger Ratings Using Rivian Data

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

A Better Routeplanner 5.0 launched yesterday, and there are some pretty awesome features coming to all EV owners courtesy of Rivian. Rivian purchased ABRP last year and has made good on its promises to continue its improvement and ensure it remains open to all EV owners.

Charger Scoring

Rivian recently added a feature that would rate any chargers compatible with Rivian vehicles. The list of chargers includes Rivian Adventure Network (RAN) chargers, Tesla Superchargers and any other compatible third-party chargers. The charger score is automatically calculated based on the station's average top speed and reliability.

With the launch of ABRP 5.0, Rivian is integrating its charger scores directly into the free tier of ABRP so that all EV owners can benefit. ABRP users will now be able to see charger scores, and ABRP will automatically route users to chargers with higher scores if they are available on your route.

Google Automotive

Another cool feature for ABRP is that it will now be available as an app to install and use directly in vehicles that support Google Automotive. Any EV that uses Google Automotive, including Volvo,  Polestar, Ford, and GM will support the in-system experience, which will also provide data for charger scoring and routing.

This will be an excellent way to hold third-party networks accountable, which have commonly suffered from uptime or speed issues.

Tesla’s Implementation

Tesla previously implemented a “Qualified Third-Party Charger” program, that would allow highly-rated third-party chargers that meet a strict set of requirements to be displayed directly in the vehicle. However, this is currently limited to Europe and parts of the Middle East. Within North America, Tesla only displays third-party Tesla destination chargers in addition to Superchargers.

While Tesla doesn’t directly show charger scores, they clearly are tracking charge data, and are providing the cream of the crop of third-party chargers for navigation where the program is available. We’d hope that this implementation of qualified third-party chargers also comes to North America, as NACS is becoming the de facto standard for charging.

If Tesla does expand the display of third-party chargers to other regions, it’ll likely be similar to what we see in Europe today, and won’t be as open as Rivian’s implementation in ABRP.

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