Tesla Fires Back Against Ex-Employee’s Model 3 Warnings

June 24, 2018, 4:03 PM UTC

Tesla has denounced claims made about the safety and production volume of Model 3 vehicles by a former employee and self-described whistleblower.

A Tesla spokesperson dismissed former Nevada Gigafactory technician Martin Tripp’s claims of whistleblower status and allegations that Tesla installed damaged batteries in Model 3 cars, falsified Model 3 production numbers, generated wasteful levels of scrap material, and stored that scrap unsafely. The spokesperson, in statements newly released by Ars Technica, said Tripp’s claims were “easily disprovable.”

According to Tesla, the batteries Tripp may have seen damaged in a February accident were “not used in any vehicle.” Tesla also said through its spokesperson that Tripp “grossly exaggerated” estimates for the scrap being produced by the Gigafactory and that Model 3 production numbers couldn’t be falsified because they are “updated in real-time on screens in the factory, plainly visible to anyone passing by.”

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The rebuttals were initially included as background information accompanying an earlier statement about an alleged violent threat made by Tripp, but Tesla later agreed to let Ars release the whole statement.

In the statement, Tesla reiterated claims that Tripp was not a whistleblower at all, but “someone who stole Tesla data . . . and transferred that data to unknown amounts of third parties.” Tesla sued Tripp for his alleged data theft on Wednesday, weeks after Tripp leaked data on Gigafactory waste to Business Insider. Business Insider reaffirmed earlier this month that at least Tripp’s claims about waste and faulty batteries are credible, based on “internal logs” seen by their reporter.

Tripp appears to have been the “saboteur” CEO Elon Musk referred to in a memo early last week — again, weeks after Tripp leaked the data on waste. In that memo, Musk made vague claims about opponents and detractors, such as the oil and gas industry, looking to undermine Tesla. Musk has since alluded to the likelihood of other “bad apples” within the company.

Tripp has said Tesla is “trying to do everything they can to silence me,” and denies hacking data, saying “I don’t know how to code.” Tripp also denied making any violent threat, and speculated that Tesla was using the allegations as an intimidation tactic.