New book claims Elon Musk shouted at overworked Tesla staff

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File image: Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk walks next to a screen showing an image of Tesla Model 3 car during an opening ceremony for Tesla China-made Model Y program in Shanghai, China, 7 January 2020 (REUTERS)
File image: Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk walks next to a screen showing an image of Tesla Model 3 car during an opening ceremony for Tesla China-made Model Y program in Shanghai, China, 7 January 2020 (REUTERS)

A new book has claimed that Tesla’s co-founder Elon Musk had temper issues and he shouted at overworked staff during the development of his company’s electric cars.

According to the book ‘Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century’ by Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins, Mr Musk said: “I can be on my own private island with naked supermodels, drinking mai tais, but I’m not. I’m in the factory working my a** off, so I don’t want to hear about how hard everyone else in the factory works.”

The outburst, according to the book, was in 2016 when Tesla’s vice president Josh Ensign and Mr Musk were arguing over time-off for overworked workers.

The book highlights a series of instances detailing meltdowns of Mr Musk, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Tesla.

According to the book, Elon Musk got angry at a lobbyist for car dealerships in Texas, who was against Tesla selling directly to the customers and told the staff to “get that guy the f*** out of here”.

Mr Higgins wrote that Mr Musk was motivated by a relentless drive to produce an affordable and reliable electric car. According to the author, Mr Musk would sleep on the factory floor and gave interviews in clothes he hadn’t changed in three days, reported the Daily Mail.

“And while Musk’s vision, enthusiasm, and determination carry Tesla; his ego, paranoia, and pettiness threaten to undo it all,” wrote Mr Higgins.

In his book, the author gives a detailed account of how Mr Musk allegedly fired people on a whim and that people rarely escaped his anger, including Tesla’s co-founder Martin Eberhard.

Another instance highlights an episode where he told a room full of engineers trying to make the assembly line work that their work was “complete s***”.

However, Mr Musk on 30 July dismissed the book.

“Higgins managed to make his book both false *and* boring,” he tweeted.

Mr Higgins tweeted: “Musk was given plenty of opportunities to comment on this. He didn’t. This anecdote comes from Musk’s own account of the conversation, according to people who heard the retelling at the time.”

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The author was referring to a 2016 incident, which according to the book, is when Apple’s Tim Cook called Elon Musk to suggest Apple buy Tesla.

The book states that Mr Musk expressed his interest but told Mr Cook that he wants to be the CEO of Apple following which the latter hung up the call.

Reacting to this instance in the book, Mr Musk tweeted: “Cook & I have never spoken or written to each other ever. There was a point where I requested to meet with Cook to talk about Apple buying Tesla. There were no conditions of acquisition proposed whatsoever. He refused to meet. Tesla was worth about 6% of today’s value.”

The Independent has reached out to Tesla and Elon Musk for comment.

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