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Elon Musk and Tesla cope with 'sabotage', space crunch for new Model 3 assembly line

Posted: Updated: Jun 19, 2018 8:07 AM
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Elon Musk and Tesla are battling a double whammy of reported sabotage and lack of space for a new auto assembly line amid ramped-up production of the electric car company's Model 3 vehicles.

Musk, Tesla's CEO, emailed company employees Sunday night alleging the discovery of a saboteur among the Palo Alto, California-based company's staffers, CNBC reported.

The suspect carried out "quite extensive and damaging sabotage" to Tesla, including changing the code to an internal product and then exporting data to others outside the company, the report said.

"The full extent of his actions are not yet clear, but what he has admitted to so far is pretty bad," Musk wrote in the Sunday night email cited in the report. "His stated motivation is that he wanted a promotion that he did not receive. In light of these actions, not promoting him was definitely the right move."

Tesla declined to comment on the email, the report said.

Musk separately emailed Tesla employees about a small fire that forced the company to halt its body production line for several hours on Sunday night, CNBC also reported. Tesla confirmed that message.

The problem erupted as Tesla races to increase auto production to meet a goal of producing 5,000 of the company's Model 3 vehicles per week by the end of June. The company last week disclosed a corporate restructuring aimed at cutting 9 percent of its workforce while sparing Model 3 production employees.

The ramped-up production effort caused a space crunch at Tesla's production facilities, Musk tweeted early Tuesday. Responding to the crisis, company employees built a giant tent to house a new assembly line in just two weeks, he said.

Shares of Tesla were down 5.5 percent at $350.24 in late morning trading Tuesday.

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While coping with the Model 3 production challenges, Musk has also criticized the news media via Twitter for what he characterized as irresponsible reporting on the company's problems.

In a series of late-May tweets, he said news reporters are "sanctimonious," have "earned this mistrust" and are catering to the business interests of their respective media organizations.

Musk suggested he would start a new website to gauge the legitimacy of journalists and news organizations.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kevin McCoy on Twitter: @kmccoynyc

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