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Tesla reportedly lays off 200 in Autopilot unit, shutters San Mateo office

·Senior Reporter
·2-min read

Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk warned layoffs were coming, and new reports suggest they have just come down within an important division.

Bloomberg News, citing sources familiar with the matter, reports Tesla has laid off around 200 workers at its San Mateo, California office. That office houses the Autopilot team, which among other things performed tasks like “data-labeling,” which required marking pieces of visual data collected by the Autopilot and full-self driving (FSD) driver assistance programs.

Electric vehicle (EV) blog electrek also reports that LinkedIn is flooded with “posts from now former Tesla employees working at its San Mateo office after the automaker let them know yesterday that it would be shutting down the office and letting go of the employees there.”

A Tesla Model 3 vehicle drives on autopilot along the 405 highway in Westminster, California, U.S., March 16, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A Tesla Model 3 vehicle drives on autopilot along the 405 highway in Westminster, California, U.S., March 16, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The Bloomberg report further notes that most of the workers affected were data annotation specialists, who were hourly-paid staff, not full-time employees.

This move comes as a surprise because Musk had recently said the company would be laying off 10% of salaried staff and had planned to hire more hourly-paid workers or contractors in the future. Musk had expressed concern about the state of the economy in recent weeks, claiming he had a "super bad feeling" about the economy when announcing that Tesla needed to cut 10% of jobs at the company.

The layoffs in the Autopilot team also come at an odd time for Tesla, which is facing more and more scrutiny from regulators over auto accidents that occurred when Tesla drivers had Autopilot engaged.

A Tesla sedan is shown after it struck a parked Laguna Beach Police Department vehicle in Laguna Beach, California, U.S. in this May 29, 2018 handout photo.  Laguna Beach Police Department/Handout via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.  BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE.
A Tesla sedan is shown after it struck a parked Laguna Beach Police Department vehicle in Laguna Beach, California, U.S. in this May 29, 2018 handout photo. Laguna Beach Police Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE.

Earlier this month the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) expanded a probe it had begun last August into a series of crashes where Tesla vehicles using Autopilot hit emergency vehicles stopped on the road or highways. The expanded inquiry went from investigating the original 11 crashes to adding 6 more that were deemed worthy of further examination.

The NHTSA investigation could lead to a recall of the Tesla Autopilot software, affecting around 830,000 Tesla vehicles.

Tesla stock is down around 3% in midday trade on Wednesday.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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