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Elon Musk seems to have decided he needs his Supercharger team after all, weeks after axing the division

Kwan Wei Kevin Tan   

Elon Musk seems to have decided he needs his Supercharger team after all, weeks after axing the division
  • It looks as if Elon Musk has decided he needs his Supercharger team after all.
  • The mercurial billionaire axed the entire charging-infrastructure team two weeks ago.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is rehiring some of the workers from the Supercharger team he dissolved two weeks ago, Bloomberg has reported.

Last month, Musk said in an email to his staff that he was dissolving the team behind Tesla's Supercharger charging-station network, according to The Information. But it seems that Musk has backtracked on his decision.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported on Monday that Musk had brought back some Supercharger workers, including Tesla's charging director for North America, Max de Zegher.

The longtime Tesla employee joined the company in 2013 and has spent more than a decade with the electric-vehicle giant, according to his LinkedIn profile. De Zegher started out in sales before focusing on Tesla's charging infrastructure in the UK, Europe, and North America.

Representatives for Musk and de Zegher didn't respond to Bloomberg's requests for comment. The outlet said it wasn't immediately clear how many Supercharger workers had been brought back.

Musk's initial decision to lay off the Supercharger team shocked Tesla's investors, partners, and customers. In particular, major automakers that had adopted Tesla's charging tech, such as General Motors, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz, were left hanging by Musk's move.

"There's no one remaining from the team that we worked with. In terms of formal communication from Tesla, we haven't received anything," Aaron Luque, the CEO EnviroSpark, which installs Tesla chargers, told Business Insider's Tom Carter.

A slowdown in the rollout of Tesla's charging infrastructure would be a setback for President Joe Biden's clean-energy agenda as well. In February 2022, the Biden administration said it was handing out $5 billion in funding to build 500,000 EV chargers in the US.

Citing data it reviewed, Politico reported in February that Tesla was a huge beneficiary of federal funding, winning almost 13% of all EV charging awards from Biden's bipartisan infrastructure law. The company has more than 50,000 Superchargers globally.

The backlash toward the Supercharger team's dissolution may have been a critical factor in changing Musk's mind. The billionaire has spent the past two weeks engaging in damage control, repeatedly assuring that Tesla's superchargers aren't going anywhere.

"Tesla still plans to grow the Supercharger network, just at a slower pace for new locations and more focus on 100% uptime and expansion of existing locations," Musk said in an X post on April 30.

And on Friday, Musk took to his social-media platform once more to clarify that Tesla was still committed to building out its Superchargers.

"Just to reiterate: Tesla will spend well over $500M expanding our Supercharger network to create thousands of NEW chargers this year," Musk wrote. "That's just on new sites and expansions, not counting operations costs, which are much higher."

Musk's apparent about-turn on Tesla's Supercharger business underscores the challenges he faces in trying to reposition the automaker as a bleeding-edge software company.

On April 5, Musk announced in an X post that Tesla would be launching its long-awaited robotaxi on August 8. The Tesla chief even told investors last month that the company's Optimus robots could become its most valuable asset.

"We should be thought of as an AI or robotics company. If you value Tesla as just like an auto company, fundamentally, it's just the wrong framework," Musk said in an earnings call on April 23.

Representatives for Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from BI sent outside regular business hours.

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