Tesla to cut 9% of workforce, Model 3 production not affected by layoffs

Elon Musk said the company would continue to hire for critical roles and that finding additional production staff remained a priority. Above, a Model 3 sits on the showroom floor at a Tesla dealership in Chicago. (Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Tesla to cut 9% of workforce, Model 3 production not affected by layoffs

  • The cuts concern salaried staff but not production workers and will not affect Model 3 output targets
  • Founded in 2003 by a group of engineers drawn to electric cars, Tesla went public in 2010 and began delivering the Model S sedan in 2012

NEW YORK: Electric carmaker Tesla Motors announced Tuesday it was cutting nine percent of its workforce to enhance profitability but said the move would not affect an ambitious production ramp-up of its Model 3 sedan.
The job cuts are part of a company-wide restructuring to address excess staff in some areas due to the company’s speedy growth, Tesla chief Elon Musk said in an email to employees.
The cuts concern salaried staff but not production workers and will not affect Model 3 output targets, said Musk, who characterized the downsizing as an acknowledgement of the need to focus more on costs.
“Given that Tesla has never made an annual profit in the almost 15 years since we have existed, profit is obviously not what motivates us,” Musk said in the message.
“What drives us is our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable, clean energy, but we will never achieve that mission unless we eventually demonstrate that we can be sustainably profitable,” Musk added.
“That is a valid and fair criticism of Tesla’s history to date.”
The layoff affects almost 4,000 workers, based on figures supplies by the company. Musk said last month that the company would conduct a “sort of reorganization” but did not discuss specifics.
Musk said Tuesday the company would continue to hire for critical roles and that finding additional production staff remained a priority.
Musk said on Twitter that the decision to cut jobs was “difficult but necessary.”
The Tesla chief has at times clashed with Wall Street analysts over an aggressive cash burn rate that has fed skepticism over whether the company can reach its goals after the company earlier missed several key benchmarks for the Model 3.
Just six weeks ago, Musk was in the doghouse with many Wall Street analysts after he abruptly cut off an earnings conference call because of “dry” and “bonehead” questions that dug into capital spending details.
But others on Wall Street and beyond view the charismatic Tesla chief as a visionary, sometimes comparing him to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and others who have also disrupted industries.
The company’s stock is up about 15 percent since June 5, when Musk signaled that the company would likely meet a goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 sedans by the end of June.
Shares had also risen Monday after Musk said on Twitter the company’s updated Autopilot software coming in August would enable “full self-driving features.”
Shares of Tesla rose 3.3 percent in afternoon trading to $343.00
Founded in 2003 by a group of engineers drawn to electric cars, Tesla went public in 2010 and began delivering the Model S sedan in 2012.
However, the company’s first two major vehicles both sell for around $75,000 or more, whereas the Model 3 starts at $35,000 and had been billed as the first electric car aimed at the middle market.
Since that time, General Motors has also launched a model for this market, the Chevrolet Bolt.
GM chief Mary Barra announced Tuesday that the company planned to boost production of the Bolt to meet demand and reiterated plans to launch more than 20 new electric vehicles worldwide by 2023.


Oil prices rise on gains prompted by tensions between US and Iran

Updated 25 June 2019
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Oil prices rise on gains prompted by tensions between US and Iran

  • Russian energy minister praises international cooperation to stabilize oil markets

LONDON: Oil prices rose on Monday, extending large gains last week that were prompted by tensions between Iran and the US, as Washington was set to announce new sanctions on Tehran.

West Texas Intermediate crude was up 50 cents, or 0.87 percent, at $57.93 a barrel.

Brent futures were up 9 cents, or 0.14 percent at $65.29 a barrel by 1040 GMT.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday he called off a military strike in retaliation for the shooting down of a US drone by Iran, saying the potential death toll would be disproportionate, adding on Sunday that he was not seeking war.

Oil prices surged after Iran shot down the aircraft on Thursday that the US claimed was in international airspace and Tehran said was over its territory.

Brent racked up a gain of about 5 percent last week, its first weekly gain in five weeks, and WTI jumped about 10 percent, its biggest weekly percentage gain since December 2016.

But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “significant” sanctions on Iran would be announced on Monday aimed at further choking off resources that Tehran uses to fund its activities in the region.

British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said the UK believed neither the US nor Iran wanted a conflict but warned tensions could lead to an “accidental war.”

Also boosting prices, global supply may remain tight as OPEC and its allies including Russia appear likely to extend their oil cut pact at their meeting July 1-2 in Vienna, analysts said.

“An extension of OPEC+ production cuts through the end of the year seems highly likely given recent price action,” US investment bank Jefferies said in a note.

“The market expects an extension though, and any failure could see oil price gap down. The probabilities favor restraint however,” it added.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak on Monday said international cooperation on crude production had helped stabilize oil markets and is more important than ever.

“There is a good example of successful cooperation in balancing the oil market between the OPEC countries and non-OPEC. Thanks to joint efforts, we today see a stabilization of world oil markets,” Novak said.

Boosting oil demand, prospects of a near-term interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve aimed at bolstering the US economy have weakened the dollar.

Oil is usually priced in dollars, and a slide in the value of the weaker greenback makes it cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Separately, Iranian crude exports have dropped so far in June to 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) or less after the US tightened the screws on Tehran’s main source of income, industry sources said and tanker data showed, deepening global supply losses.

The US reimposed sanctions on Iran in November after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and six world powers. Aiming to cut Iran’s sales to zero, Washington in May ended sanctions waivers to importers of Iranian oil.

Iran has nonetheless sent abroad about 300,000 bpd of crude in the first three weeks of June, according to two industry sources who track the flows. Data from Refinitiv Eikon put crude shipments at about 240,000 bpd.

“It’s a very low level of real crude exports,” said one of the sources.

The squeeze on exports from Iran, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is a key factor for the producer group and its allies, which meet on July 1-2 to decide whether to pump more oil in the rest of 2019.

Iran’s June exports are down from about 400,000-500,000 bpd in May as estimated by the industry sources and Refinitiv and a fraction of the more than 2.5 million bpd that Iran shipped in April 2018, the month before President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal.

Iranian exports have become more opaque since US sanctions returned in November, making it harder to assess volumes.

Tehran no longer reports its production figures to OPEC and there is no definitive information on exports since it can be difficult to tell if a vessel has sailed to a specific end-user.

Refinitiv Eikon data showed Iran has exported 5.7 million barrels of crude in the first 24 days of June to the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Singapore and Syria, although these may not be the final destinations.

Kpler, another company which tracks oil flows, estimates that Iran loaded 645,000 bpd of crude and condensate, a light oil, onto tankers in the first half of June, of which 82 percent are floating in Gulf waters.

That would put actual crude exports in the first half of the month even lower than 300,000 bpd.

“American restrictions are having a clear effect on Iran’s ability to sell into global markets,” Kpler said.