Tesla Inc. laid off hundreds of workers on its Autopilot team as the electric vehicle maker shut down a California facility, according to people familiar with the matter.
Surprisingly, most of the workers laid off were hourly workers, said the people, who asked not to be identified to discuss private information. Just last week, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk outlined plans to cut 10 percent of salaried staff but said he would increase hourly jobs.
Teams at the San Mateo office were tasked with evaluating customer vehicle data in relation to Autopilot driver assistance features and performing what is known as data labeling. Many of the staff are data annotation specialists, all hired hourly, one of the staff said.
According to the population, a total of about 200 workers were laid off. Before the cuts, the office had about 350 staff, some of whom have already been transferred to a nearby facility in recent weeks.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tesla is cutting its ranks after a surge in hiring in recent years. The company, based in Austin, Texas, had grown to around 100,000 employees worldwide with the construction of new factories in Austin and Berlin.
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Musk surprised workers earlier this month when he said layoffs would be necessary in an increasingly shaky economic environment. In an interview with Bloomberg, he clarified that about 10 percent of employees would lose their jobs in the next three months, although the total number of employees in a year could be higher.
The EV leader’s downsizing efforts have focused on areas that have been growing too fast. Some HR professionals and software developers were laid off, and in some cases the cuts hit employees who had only worked at the company for a few weeks.
Those affected by the latest move were working on one of the more well-known features in Tesla vehicles. In job postings, Tesla has said that tagged data is the “key ingredient for training powerful deep neural networks that help Tesla vehicles drive autonomously.” Employees in Buffalo, New York and San Mateo spent hours labeling images for cars and the environments they move in, such as street signs and lanes.
In Buffalo, Tesla has continued to expand its Autopilot data labeling teams, a person familiar with the matter said. But employees at that location who play the same role are paid a lower hourly rate than at San Mateo, the person said.
Tesla shares fell less than 1 percent in late trade. The stock fell 34 percent this year through Tuesday’s close, compared to a 20 percent drop in the SP 500 index.
https://www.independent.ie/business/world/tesla-lays-off-around-200-autopilot-workers-41800590.html Tesla is laying off around 200 Autopilot workers