Confusion reigns at Tesla’s SolarCity as hundreds of staff are let go

26 Oct 2017

A SolarCity installation van. Image: Jennie Book/Shutterstock

Tesla is letting hundreds of staff go across its SolarCity operation, not long after it announced more than 200 job cuts in California.

SolarCity – Tesla’s renewable energy subsidiary – is shedding hundreds of jobs at its offices across the US.

This comes not long after it revealed it would be letting 205 staff go at its California plant, with 11,000 of Tesla’s Model X cars recently recalled.

A number of the employees affected by the restructuring are speaking out. Speaking with CNBC, six former and current employees have said that those let go were told by Tesla that it was because of performance reasons. Documents sent to affected staff, seen by CNBC, appeared to support this claim but some have said they were surprised to hear this as they had not received a performance review since Tesla acquired the business just under a year ago.

One of the employees estimates that this wave of dismissals amounts to around 1,200 staff, not including previously announced lay-offs. Some have also alleged that despite asking SolarCity’s HR department for a copy of their performance review, they received nothing.

Tesla responds

In response to the allegations, Tesla made a statement it previously issued when the topic of dismissals came up.

“Like all companies, Tesla conducts an annual performance review during which a manager and employee discuss the results that were achieved, as well as how those results were achieved, during the performance period,” the company said.

“This includes both constructive feedback and recognition of top performers with additional compensation and equity awards, as well as promotions in many cases.

“As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures. Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”

This latest apparent downsizing comes after Tesla announced in May that it would no longer be selling its systems door-to-door in favour of online sales, resulting in a number of lay-offs.

A SolarCity installation van. Image: Jennie Book/Shutterstock

Updated, 3.57pm, 26 October 2017: This article was updated to clarify that the previous 205 job cuts at Tesla’s California plant are unrelated to this recent news.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic