Business|Tesla Fires Many on Charger Team, Raising Doubts About Expansion



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The carmaker dismissed hundreds of employees in a unit that was critical to its success and seen as important to the future of electric vehicle sales in the United States.

A Tesla charging station with cars plugged in. The Tesla logo is lit up on the chargers.
Tesla agreed last year to open up its network of Supercharger stations to electric cars made by other automakers. Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times

Elon Musk has gutted the part of Tesla responsible for building electric vehicle charging stations, sowing uncertainty about the future of the largest and most reliable U.S. charging network.

The layoffs of several hundred Tesla employees, which many of them posted about on social media on Tuesday, raised questions about deals that Mr. Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, struck with the leaders of General Motors, Ford Motor and other automakers last year allowing cars made by other companies to use Tesla Supercharger stations.

Tesla’s agreements with other makers of electric cars assured buyers that they would be able to find fast chargers on road trips, addressing one of the main reasons that many people are hesitant to buy such cars. It was also seen as a coup for Mr. Musk, validating Tesla’s technology and giving the company outsize influence over the auto industry.

Almost all major manufacturers announced plans to switch the hardware and software in their cars to make them compatible with Tesla’s chargers. Ford has been mailing adapters to owners of its older electric vehicles so they can connect to Tesla’s chargers.

“Ford’s plans for our customers do not change,” Martin Günsberg, a Ford spokesman, said in an email.

The abrupt dismissal of the Supercharger team caught many people off guard, and suggested that Mr. Musk had changed his mind about the company’s strategy in ways that were not yet clear to outsiders.

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