Tesla Fires It’s Supercharger Team. Crazy? But Why?

At the end of April, Elon Musk and Tesla fired the entire 500-person Supercharger team led by Rebecca Tinucci.

For those who are new to this, a robust supercharger network is vital to convince customers to buy an electric vehicle. Tesla is the only EV-maker that implemented a smart charging network strategy, and Tesla's Supercharger network has been pivotal to its success in selling cars.

Read "How Tesla’s Charging Stations Left Other Manufacturers in the Dust" co-authored by Hemant Bhargava in Harvard Business Review. 

On the face of it, therefore, this move appears inane. Especially at a time when Tesla is opening up its network to rival EV makers.

There are three ways to understand and rationalize this move:

Musk is decisive and authoritative. Tesla has multiple ways it could execute on opening up its superchargers to rivals—differential queue priority, differential pricing, etc. Perhaps the leadership team wanted to go in one direction while Musk figured he knew better. So, fire them!

Musk is a mercurial leader. He fired this team one day, but he might bring some of them back! He did that with Twitter (X), and he has stepped back on other big decisions in the past.

New, more agile team, different skill set.
What this team has done in the last 15 years, and what Tesla desperately needed then, is to develop an outstanding "architectural plan" for deploying large-scale supercharging stations in a cost-efficient and speedy manner. This enables Tesla to have a low average cost per kW (way lower than rivals). Pre-fab modules are trucked from Tesla's factory, and the actual digging and paving is done by contractors. But now that Tesla had done this thousands of times, perhaps the Supercharging unit does not need this superior expertise anymore, and instead Musk might make a smaller team with a different skill set.

There's merit to all three arguments, but perhaps number three is the strongest. 

Visit Hemant's Bhargava's website to learn more about his research.