Tesla whistleblower tweets details about allegedly flawed cars, scrapped parts

Key Points
  • Tesla whistleblower Martin Tripp tweeted details about allegedly damaged batteries that he says Tesla shipped, and supposed manufacturing inefficiencies at the factory where Tesla makes car batteries.
  • The former employee has been engaged in a high-visibility legal fight with the company, which claims he stole and falsified information about Tesla to the press.
Tesla whistleblower tweets details about allegedly flawed cars
Tesla whistleblower tweets details about allegedly flawed cars

A former Tesla process technician, Martin Tripp, is tweeting internal emails, photos and vehicle identification numbers that he says are evidence of flawed manufacturing practices at Tesla's battery factory, and of product sold by Tesla that is imperfect, and could put drivers' lives at risk.

Tesla has characterized Tripp as a disgruntled ex-employee and saboteur in the past.

Tripp, in previous interviews, said that Tesla's Gigafactory took dangerous manufacturing shortcuts, and that Elon Musk had direct knowledge of these but failed to intervene.

The tweets were posted to Tripp's account Wednesday. However, Tripp took down his Twitter account by Thursday morning, his lawyer told CNBC.

The lists of vehicle identification numbers, which he wrote in the tweets, refer to specific cars that received batteries containing damaged cells that never should have been installed.

Tripp also tweeted pictures that he claims prove Tesla is storing waste or scrap in open parking lots and trucks at the Gigafactory, rather than temperature-controlled warehouses. He also shared screen shots of graphics that he says show a high volume of waste at the factory.

A Tesla spokesperson responded:

"As we've said before, these claims are false and Mr. Tripp does not even have personal knowledge about the safety claims that he is making. No punctured cells have ever been used in any Model 3 vehicles in any way, and all VINs that have been identified have safe batteries. Notably, there have been zero battery safety issues in any Model 3."

Stuart Meissner, an attorney for Tripp, told CNBC on Thursday that Tripp's Twitter account was not hacked or compromised. Tripp tweeted the images on his own, Meissner said. Meissner originally told CNBC Wednesday night that he doubted the authenticity of Tripp's tweets.

CNBC corresponded with Tripp via e-mail and direct messages on Wednesday. Tripp did not respond to CNBC's subsequent request to speak by phone.

Ongoing battle

Tripp has been fighting a high-profile legal battle with the company after CEO Elon Musk accused him of giving confidential and false info about the company's manufacturing practices to the press, and of "hacking" internal systems to do so.

Tripp struck back by formally filing a whistleblower complaint with the SEC.

Tesla once told multiple news outlets, including CNBC, that a tipster called to warn that Tripp was threatening to "shoot up the place." Tripp's attorney, Meissner, discovered that Tesla never attained the name of the tipster, nor verified whether the person was actually connected to Tripp. Officers in Storey County never discovered a credible threat on Tesla's Gigafactory, and Tripp was completely absolved of those accusations.

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