Elon Musk isn’t good at running Tesla either

It’s easy to forget that Tesla, the company made famous by Elon Musk’s continued incompetence as head of Twitter, is also riddled with scandals, lies and even death.

Source: Jacobin Mag, Branko Marcetic
Translated by readers of Les-Crises

Tesla CEO Elon Musk addresses guests at the Offshore Northern Seas 2022 (ONS) meeting on August 29, 2022 in Stavanger, Norway. (Carina Johansen/NTB/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the disastrous start of billionaire Elon Musk’s Twitter reign late last year, observers have had the pleasure of noting the dizzying decline in Tesla’s stock value. Clearly, Musk’s fixation on and disastrous handling of the social media platform has eroded investor confidence in the once-winning self-driving car business.

But let’s not forget that there could be another culprit: the proliferation of deaths and lawsuits surrounding the company.

An estimated 765,000 Tesla cars equipped with the company’s Autopilot and Fully Self-Driving systems are currently driving on US streets, a shocking example of massive human beta testing we’re taking part in without our knowledge. In the year ending July 2022, Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot software were involved in 273 crashes, or 70% of the 392 crashes involving all advanced driver assistance systems, according to regulators. Regulators surprisingly discovered that the Tesla cars had shut down about a second before the crash. That’s why regulators have ordered automakers to disclose all crashes using this type of software within thirty seconds of impact to prevent them from exploiting the flaw to avoid reporting crashes.

The situation has gotten so bad that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating the software last year after Autopilot-equipped Tesla cars often crashed into parked emergency vehicles at night and despite flashing lights, cones and various other warnings. By the middle of last year, thirty-nine of the forty-eight accidents on NHTSA’s entirely separate list of special crash investigations involved Tesla vehicles, resulting in nineteen deaths, and the agency was in the final stages of its investigation before the recall. In one such accident, a Tesla simply crashed into the motorcycle in front of it, killing the rider, one of a growing number of such cases.

Part of the problem is that Tesla’s “self-driving” cars don’t drive themselves at all and require the constant supervision of a “fully attentive” driver, as the company’s website says. », hands on the wheel. The other side of the problem is that you wouldn’t know it by reading the company’s marketing materials or public statements by its famous CEO talking about software that allows you to drive “without touching the steering wheel.” “doing nothing” because “the car is driving itself” – which probably explains why some of the drivers involved in these accidents were watching movies or playing video games on their phones.

As expected, Musk and his company have been sued over this and other scandals. The families of two of the victims filed lawsuits alleging that the Tesla cars were defective, lacked automatic emergency braking and “suddenly and unintentionally accelerated to excessive, dangerous and uncontrollable speeds.” A class-action lawsuit filed last year accused Tesla of falsely advertising its self-driving technology since 2016, representing it as fully operational or close to operational, while another accused Musk that a fully self-driving car was only a year or two away. sued for repeatedly claiming. away, claims from 2015. Other class actions refer to cars stalling due to non-existent barriers and faulty door handles falling off after several years.

Other claims claim that all is not well at Tesla at the production line level. The company has been the subject of at least ten lawsuits, including one from the state of California, alleging widespread and shocking racial discrimination at its Fremont, California factory, including the routine use of racial slurs and aggressive segregation of black workers. reserved areas. Another lawsuit alleges that Musk exerted undue influence over Tesla’s board of directors and used that influence to obtain exorbitant salaries.

So yes, Musk’s incompetence running Twitter has hurt the company that made him famous in the first place. But the company itself is riddled with scandal and gross incompetence, reminding us that genius CEO Musk’s reputation was questionable long before he got involved in social media.


Branko Marcetic is Jacobin editor and author of Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden. [L’homme du passé : le dossier contre Joe Biden, NdT]. Lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Source: Jacobin Mag, Branko Marcetic, 07-01-2023

Translated by readers of Les-Crises

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