Former Tesla employees and solar energy experts have questioned Elon Musk’s credibility
Elon Musk is ‘full of s**t’ and will tell ‘you anything you want to hear,’ former employees of his solar panel plant in Buffalo have claimed in a scathing rebuke of the Tesla CEO’s credibility published by Vanity Fair.
The article, published on Monday, cites not just disgruntled ex employees from the plant but also solar panel experts who say Musk does not know what he is talking about when it comes to the subject.
Collectively, they claim he has puffed up his plans to turn the country onto renewable energy with SolarCity, his cousins’ company which he bought in 2016, but that it is sinking his empire.
It comes a week after Walmart sued Tesla for ‘utter incompetence’ after solar panels at seven of its stores that had been made by SolarCity burst into flames.
One former Tesla employee, who was laid off in January this year and has spoken in the past of the poor conditions at the Buffalo factory, revealed that Musk called him after he complained on Twitter about his circumstances.
He had called him a ‘clown’ on social media. When he answered the phone and asked who he was speaking to, Musk responded: ‘It’s the clown.’
He said that while the entrepreneur was ‘nice enough’, he was unimpressed with his apparently vague plans for the future of the company.
‘Musk is a nice guy when you talk to him. But I think he’s full of s**t. He’ll tell you whatever you want to hear,’ Dennis Scott told the magazine.
The Tesla plant in Buffalo, New York. It has been shrouded in secrecy since Tesla bought SolarCity in 2016
One solar panel expert, who asked not to be identified but who runs a Twitter account now dedicated to monitoring Tesla’s downfalls, said he felt the same after watching Musk speak about solar power in 2016.
‘He spewed total BS. I was flabbergasted. I was convinced in the moment that the shingles were fake,’ he said.
Musk had been discussing the imminent threat of global warming while standing atop the Desperate Housewives set in Universal Studios back lot. He had been trying to convince shareholders in Tesla to buy SolarCity for months.
He spewed total BS. I was flabbergasted
Former Fortune 500 executive and solar tech expert
SolarCity’s business model was that it would revolutionize solar panels by putting them in homes across the country.
They offered lending to customers and allowed them to pay off the panels over time but it presented major cash flow problems for the company.
Musk, whose cousins founded it, was a majority shareholder.
He gradually acquired more of the company as it floundered then bought it through Tesla in 2016 for $2.6billion, taking on its debt.
The same solar panel expert say the decision will be remembered as a ‘turning point’ for Tesla.
A close-up shows that the fire appears to have originated among solar panels at a Walmart. The grocery store giant sued Tesla last week for negligence
‘When the history of Tesla is written, The acquisition of SolarCity will be seen as the moment where the narrative took a decisive turn,’ he said.
Musk has a habit of overstating Tesla’s operational capabilities and its prospects for profitability, especially when the company is preparing to raise capital, collect customer deposits, or secure regulatory benefits
After buying the company, Musk then promised to manufacture 10,000 solar panels a day from it – a wild number that far surpassed what it had been producing.
He then moved its operations to Buffalo, winning a $750million investment from the state of New York and promising thousands of jobs in return.
But less than three years in, the company laid off scores of employees, including Scott.
There are now resounding questions over where the state’s investment went and what local people can get out of it.
Former executives say it was a ‘motivational’ environment where harsh realities about the company’s limitations were overlooked.
‘I turned a blind eye to a lot of the silliness because of the idealism.
‘I don’t know when the Rubicon was crossed, but here were micro-crossings every day,’ one said.
Dennis Scott (above), who was laid off from the ‘Gigafactory II’ solar panel plant in Buffalo as part of company-wide cuts in January, said Musk called him afterwards but had no straight answers to his questions about the company’s future
Now, in the town, residents are frustrated with what they say has been a disappointment.
‘For $750 million, we’re getting jobs that pay $2 an hour more than Aldi’s,’ Dave Robinson, an editor at the local Buffalo News, said.
There are also concerns over Musk’s credibility as a businessman. Analysts have noted how he has a ‘habit’ of conflating some of what Tesla is doing or capable of online.
It is a move which cost him heavily in a dispute with the SEC which accused him of fraud for tweeting that he was taking the company private when no such suggestion had been put to shareholders.
‘Musk has a habit of overstating Tesla’s operational capabilities and its prospects for profitability, especially when the company is preparing to raise capital, collect customer deposits, or secure regulatory benefits,’ Brian Horey of Aurelian Partners, told Vanity Fair.
The questions of credibility come a week after Walmart sued Tesla alleging ‘utter incompetence’ after solar panels at seven of its stores burst into flames.
The two companies had been arguing privately over the matter but failed to reach a resolution.
Walmart filed a lawsuit on August 20. It claims that while SolarCity is to blame for the failures, Tesla did nothing to investigate or rectify the problems it inherited when it bought the company.
Tesla did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s inquiries on Monday.
A spokesman told Vanity Fair that it was presenting a ‘one-sided view with cherry-picked sourcing aimed at feeding into the fear, uncertainty, and doubt being circulated about Tesla every day by those looking to gain from Tesla’s losses.’