Tesla alleged in a lawsuit Wednesday that a former employee hacked into the Silicon Valley company’s computer system, lifted confidential information and delivered the data to an unnamed party.
Martin Tripp admitted to writing software to hack Tesla’s manufacturing software and transferring data to “outside entities,” including dozens of photographs, according to the lawsuit. CEO Elon Musk warned employees to look out for possible saboteurs who might undermine the company’s technology.
“There is more, but the actions of a few bad apples will not stop Tesla from reaching its goals,” Musk wrote on Twitter, responding to questions about the extent of Tripp’s efforts. “With 40,000 people, the worst 1 in 1000 will have issues. That’s still ~40 people.”
Tripp began working for the company’s Nevada plant in October 2017, Tesla alleged in the lawsuit. He was later reassigned to a different role after managers complained about the former process technician’s bad attitude.
“Tripp retaliated against Tesla by stealing confidential and trade-secret information and disclosing it to third parties, and by making false statements intended to harm the company,” the lawsuit stated. Musk places a premium on keeping Tesla’s secrets behind closed doors, especially away from reporters’ prying eyes. (RELATED: Moody’s Downgrades Tesla’s Credit Rating As Model 3 Slips Into Obscurity)
The lawsuit comes as Tesla struggles to produce the Model 3. The company initially planned to produce 5,000 Model 3s a week by the end of 2017, but that number was quickly revised as the inexpensive vehicle’s production began faltering.
Tesla is currently making only around 975 Model 3s a week — well short of the 2,500-unit rate target by the end of this quarter. Concern is growing over the Silicon Valley company’s poor production performance.
It managed to build a mere 260 Model 3s between July and September of 2017. That number is well below the 1,500 Tesla promised before the end of the fourth quarter of said year. Total orders for the wallet-friendly vehicle tumbled from a high of 518,000 to 455,000.
Production on the highly touted vehicle was expected to expand from 100 cars in August to 1,500 in September then plateau to 20,000 per month in December 2017. CEO Elon Musk promised to eventually produce 20,000 cars per month. Analysts are also taking notice of the company’s problems, especially its chronic inability to turn a profit.
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