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Published on June 23rd, 2018 | by Steve Hanley

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Tesla Sues Saboteur, Elon Tweets About Tents And Factories In Europe

June 23rd, 2018 by  


A few days ago, Elon Musk sent a note to all employees alerting them that there was a saboteur inside the company who had been messing with the company’s manufacturing operating system. This week, the company filed suit in federal court in Nevada alleging former process technician Martin Tripp is the culprit, according to a report by CNBC. Not only did he steal several gigabytes of privileged data, he also wrote computer code to periodically export Tesla’s data to people outside the company and made several false statements to the press according to the lawsuit.

Tesla factory

Tesla said in a press statement that it is only now beginning to understand all of the nefarious things Tripp did. The suit alleges Tripp “has thus far admitted to writing software that hacked Tesla’s manufacturing operating system (‘MOS’) and to transferring several gigabytes of Tesla data to outside entities.” The purloined material includes “dozens of confidential photographs and a video of Tesla’s manufacturing systems.”

The lawsuit suggest that Tripp, who was annoyed because he did not receive promotions he felt he deserved, was the source of recent allegations to the press concerning defective parts being used in Tesla automobiles and damaged battery components being utilized in the batteries for the new Tesla Model 3 sedan.

“For example, Tripp claimed that punctured battery cells had been used in certain Model 3 vehicles even though no punctured cells were ever used in vehicles, batteries or otherwise,” the suit says. “Tripp also vastly exaggerated the true amount and value of ‘scrap’ material that Tesla generated during the manufacturing process, and falsely claimed that Tesla was delayed in bringing new manufacturing equipment online.” The revelations this week have raised concerns about the security of Tesla’s computer operations, with some suggesting the company was lax in who it allowed to have access to its most sensitive information.

It is unclear what Tesla hopes to gain from its suit against Tripp. It’s unlikely he has enough financial resources to pay a large judgment. Although, the court could enjoin him from such bad behavior in the future. It would be interesting to know who Tripp was sharing his information with outside the company. No other defendants are named in the suit.

New Tesla Model 3 Assembly Line Built From Scrap

Also this week, Elon Musk has tweeted a rather extraordinary message, claiming the new Model 3 assembly line constructed inside a large tent was built using scrap materials the company found laying about its warehouse.

Musk also said the new factory in a tent is preferable to the regular factory because it has a great view of the mountains.

A European Factory?

Speculation about a Tesla factory in Europe has been going on for years. Musk did a tour of the Continent last summer, presumably to scout out suitable locations. Now it seems he is zeroing in on a location in Germany near the French border.

While the question that led to the Tweet asked specifically about another Gigafactory, most observers believe the company will combine battery production and vehicle assembly in one location going forward. A factory in Germany would be a direct challenge to German auto manufacturers who still seem to believe they will be able to continue building diesel-powered conventional cars far into the future while turning out a token number of electric cars. If Elon is tweeting about it, it’s likely a final decision is in the offing.


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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island and anywhere else the Singularity may take him. His muse is Charles Kuralt -- "I see the road ahead is turning. I wonder what's around the bend?" You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.



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