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Elon Musk once called employees ‘complete s—,’ headbutted Tesla at Bay Area factory, book alleges

Elon Musk once called employees 'complete s—,' headbutted Tesla at Bay Area factory, book alleges


A book by Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins sheds light on alleged “unpredictable” bouts of anger from Elon Musk as Tesla’s expansion reached something of a breaking point.



Elon Musk standing in front of a stage: In this file photo Elon Musk speaks during Satellite 2020 at the Washington Convention Center March 9, 2020, in Washington, DC.


© Brendan Smialowski, AFP Via Getty Images

In this file photo Elon Musk speaks during Satellite 2020 at the Washington Convention Center March 9, 2020, in Washington, DC.


The book, titled “Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century,” was published Tuesday — but a juicy snippet about Musk’s reported “manic brutality” made its way onto GQ on publication day.

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As Higgins tells it, in 2016 Tesla outwardly promised a rapid expansion of development of its Model 3 output. But privately, a sea of snags hit its production — namely in Musk’s vision of an automated car manufacturing line — requiring more workers and more money.

According to the book, Musk got increasingly angry at the bottlenecks of production and specifically, at Doug Field, the former head of engineering at the car company, who later left Tesla (unceremoniously) and is now a VP at Apple.

In one meeting, Higgins alleges, Musk gathered a room of Tesla engineers, seemingly with the express goal of verbally harassing them.

“He stormed in and proceeded to tell them all that their work was ‘complete s—t,'” writes Higgins. “He ordered each person to go around the room and tell him “who the f—k you are and what the f—k you’re doing to fix my goddamn line.” As he berated the team, one of the engineers had had enough and quit to Musk’s face.”

And during one tour, he got mad at an “automatic safety sensor” built for workers’ safety and began headbutting a car on the line, the book claims.

Read the full excerpt at GQ.

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