Musk originally emailed the entire company just before midnight on Sunday saying that an employee had been caught conducting “quite extensive and damaging sabotage,” as initially reported by CNBC. The employee was allegedly caught making “direct code changes” to Tesla’s manufacturing system and sent “large amounts of highly sensitive” data to third parties.
The disgruntled employee allegedly acted out in response to not receiving a recent promotion, and Tesla leadership is currently investigating whether third parties could potentially be involved. Musk openly speculated about whether Wall Street short-sellers, oil & gas companies or big car competitors could be involved.
In a second email sent out on Monday morning, Musk explained that the company’s electric vehicle plant in Fremont, California needed to cease work on its body production line due to a “small fire.” Musk expressed relief that no one was near the fire when it occurred and that no equipment was significantly damaged.
He later went on to point out that employees should investigate further negligence or sabotage using former Intel CEO Andy Grove’s adage, “only the paranoid survive.” He asked employees stay keenly aware of “anything that’s not in the best interest” of Tesla.
According to the shared correspondence, the factory fire occurred Sunday night and halted vehicle production for several hours. In the past four years, Tesla has had four other fires that occurred in the company’s paint shop.
A Tesla spokesperson has reportedly confirmed the validity of the email, specifying that the production line has since begun operations again. The fire was reportedly caused by smoldering in an air filter of the welding area, which was extinguished in a matter of seconds.
The fire comes only a week after Tesla announced their broad restructuring plan, which cut 9% of its workforce. Those who worked actively on the Model 3 production were not affected, as Tesla has promised to produce 5,000 Model 3 electric cars per week in the near future.
There is no indication at this time whether the recent restructuring and the latest series of events are related.