Elon Musk has been under intense pressure to ramp up production of Tesla vehicles after a series of delays. Tesla recently managed to meet its production quota for its Model 3 cars, but now the billionaire CEO is being criticized for reportedly pushing his staff to the limit to hit those goals.
However, Musk argues that he's also made a point of pushing himself to the brink in order to show his employees at the Tesla factory that they are not the only ones being asked to go the extra mile to meet the company's production goals.
Musk has infamously slept on the Fremont, Calif., factory floor to be on hand to address problems quickly. His die-hard fan club led by YouTube video blogger Ben Sullins went so far as to crowdfund money to buy the billionaire executive a new, more plush couch to keep at the factory. But Musk says he was sleeping on the floor on purpose, he explained in a July 8 interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.
“The reason I sleep on the floor was not because I couldn't go across the road and be at the hotel. It was because I wanted my circumstance to be worse than anyone else at the company on purpose. Like whatever pain they felt, I wanted mine to be worse. That's why I did it,” Musk says, according to a transcript published Friday. “And it makes a huge difference to people."
Musk was responding to the claim from reporter Tom Randall that he is not responsibly protecting either Tesla or the electric vehicle maker’s staff as he pushes the company ever more aggressively to produce more cars, faster. Randall tells Musk that it seems like the CEO is "pushing workers to the limits and pushing the company so there is less financial stability,” according to the interview transcript.
On Thursday, Bloomberg Businessweek detailed seemingly extreme treatment of Tesla employees at its production facility, including the company reportedly providing factory workers free Red Bull to stay awake. Some employees also told Bloomberg Businessweek, on condition of anonymity, that they were instructed to walk through raw sewage that spilled on the factory floor in order to keep production on schedule.
Tesla says these characterizations are misleading, noting that employees have access to a variety of food and beverages and that the plumbing issue was fixed immediately when managers became aware of it.