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Published on May 20th, 2017 | by James Ayre

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk: “I Do Believe This Market Cap Is Higher Than We Have Any Right To Deserve”

May 20th, 2017 by  


In a recent phone interview with The Guardian that was focused mostly on working conditions at Tesla’s Fremont facility, CEO Elon Musk made some interesting comments about the firm’s current $50 billion plus market cap.

Image via Tesla

The comments read: “I do believe this market cap is higher than we have any right to deserve,” while then reportedly noting that Tesla currently produces only around 1% of GM’s output, despite temporarily having a higher market cap than the company.

This comment was apparently made when Musk was defending against some of the allegations about working conditions at the Fremont facility. In relation to that, Musk also reportedly stated: “We’re a money-losing company. This is not some situation where, for example, we are just greedy capitalists who decided to skimp on safety in order to have more profits and dividends and that kind of thing. It’s just a question of how much money we lose. And how do we survive? How do we not die and have everyone lose their jobs?”

An interesting thing for the CEO to note, even though it’s not actually news that Tesla has been expanding aggressively in recent years and has thus remained fairly cash-strapped.

As far as the rest of the article from The Guardian goes, it’s hard to know what to make of it — a number of employees of the Fremont facility are interviewed and give their take on things, but it’s hard to tell if the views presented represent the general mood of employees there or if they were cherry picked by the writers and editors of the piece.

Either way, the article is probably worth reading for those interested in the subject, and I’ll quote a bit here from some of the parts that were the most interesting to me:

“Ambulances have been called more than 100 times since 2014 for workers experiencing fainting spells, dizziness, seizures, abnormal breathing, and chest pains, according to incident reports obtained by the Guardian. Hundreds more were called for injuries and other medical issues.

“In a phone interview about the conditions at the factory, which employs about 10,000 workers, the Tesla CEO conceded his workers had been ‘having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs,’ but said he cared deeply about their health and wellbeing. His company says its factory safety record has significantly improved over the last year. …

“Richard Ortiz, another production worker, spoke admiringly of the high-tech shop floor. ‘It’s like you died and went to auto-worker heaven.’ But he added: ‘Everything feels like the future but us.’ …

“’From what I’ve gathered, Elon Musk started Tesla kind of like an app startup, and didn’t realize that it isn’t just nerds at a computer desk typing,’ said one production worker, one of several who asked not to be identified by name. ‘You really start losing the startup feel when you have thousands of people doing physical labor.’ …

“Now [Michael] Sanchez has two herniated discs in his neck, is on disability leave from work, and can no longer grip a pencil without pain. Tesla said that the employee’s injury occurred while he was installing a wheel, but Sanchez said it was caused by the years he spent working on Tesla’s assembly line. The cars he worked on were suspended above the line, and his job required looking up and working with his hands above his head all day. …

“The company did release more recent data, which indicates its record of safety incidents went from slightly above the industry average in late 2016, to a performance in the first few months of 2017 that was 32% better than average. The company said that its decision to add a third shift, introduce a dedicated team of ergonomics experts, and improvements to the factory’s ‘safety teams’ account for the significant reduction in incidents since last year. …

“Musk said safety was paramount at the company. ‘It’s incredibly hurtful, and, I think, false for anyone to claim that I don’t care.’ The CEO said his desk was ‘in the worst place in the factory, the most painful place’, in keeping with his management philosophy. ‘It’s not some comfortable corner office.’

“He added: ‘We’re doing this because we believe in a sustainable energy future, trying to accelerate the advent of clean transport and clean energy production, not because we think this is a way to get rich.'”

 
 
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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.



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