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Tesla employees claim they cut corners to meet Model 3 production goals: report

Ann Schmidt

A handful of Tesla workers claimed they were encouraged to cut corners in order to meet production goals on Model 3, according to a new report.

Current and former employees who worked in the car company’s open-air production tent in Fremont, Calif., told CNBC that they were pressured into taking shortcuts and had to work in harsh conditions, the outlet reported this week.

Some of those shortcuts reportedly included allowing cars to go down the production line even if some parts like bolts or nuts were missing. Employees allege they were also encouraged to use electrical tape to fix cracked plastic brackets and to skip vehicle tests, according to the outlet.

A Tesla spokesperson told FOX Business on Wednesday that using electrical tape is not a practice followed by the company. The spokesperson also said all vehicles go through rigorous quality checks before being shipped.

Some employees also said they had to work through intense heat, cold temperatures and even smoky air during the wildfires in California because many of the Model 3s are produced in an open-air tent, CNBC reported.

The tent, called the “general assembly 4” (GA4), is run on manual labor. It was meant to be a temporary measure when it was built in 2018 but is still in use. The Tesla spokesperson said that temperatures of the tent are regularly checked by Tesla's Environmental Health & Safety team and that fans, hydration, rest breaks and heat stress awareness training are given to employees during the most extreme conditions.

The spokesperson added that air filter masks were offered to employees who wanted them during the wildfires and that air quality was checked regularly at the time.

Of the eight former and current employees CNBC interviewed, several said that people enjoy working in the tent because of a good atmosphere and the ability to listen to music and not always wear a uniform with the approval of a supervisor.

Six of the people interviewed by the outlet were unnamed while two former employees — who left or were dismissed — went on the record.

The spokesperson from Tesla called the report "misleading" and said it doesn't correlate with the company's values and practices.

“The anecdotes reported by CNBC from a few unnamed sources are misleading and do not reflect our manufacturing practices or what it’s like to work at Tesla," a spokesperson said in a statement to several media outlets, including FOX Business.

The spokesperson added: “We work hard to create a work environment that is as safe, fair and fun as possible, and it is incredibly important to us that employees look forward to coming to work every day. In fact, we have a large number of employees who request to work on GA4 based on what they hear from colleagues and what they have seen first-hand.”

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This week, Tesla announced it is cutting the price for its Model 3 again to $38,990, USA Today reported. The company also said it would stop producing its Model S and Model X versions of the car.

Earlier this month, Tesla said it delivered more than 95,200 vehicles to customers worldwide from April through June, breaking its previous quarterly record of 90,700 set during the final three months of last year. That's a 51 percent increase over the previous three months, which is a major achievement for the electric carmaker that has struggled to scale manufacturing operations.

FOX Business' Joe Williams and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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