Car Industry

Elon Musk has it out with suspected Tesla saboteur

The Tesla CEO calls former employee Martin Tripp a saboteur. He claims he's a whistleblower. The emails have all come out.

Musk has been having it out over email with ex-Tesla employee and suspected saboteur Martin Tripp and the conversation isn't pretty.

Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Earlier this week we reported on an email that Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent to employees urging them to be vigilant against potential saboteurs. Now it has come out that the man behind the alleged theft that triggered this missive is former Tesla Gigafactory employee Martin Tripp.

According to the Washington Post, Tesla is accusing Tripp of not only the theft of sensitive data, but also leaking false and damaging information to the press. Tripp denies this, saying that he acted as a whistleblower after seeing numerous unsafe batteries go out the door for use in Tesla's cars. 

The Post report, which includes a rancorous email exchange between Musk and Tripp, indicates Tesla told Nevada authorities that it received a call from a friend of Tripp's, saying he had plans to come to the Gigafactory and "shoot the place up." Tripp vehemently denied this, and the local Storey County Sheriff's office found no evidence to support Tesla's story.

A Tesla spokesperson declined to comment.

This past year has been an especially fraught one for the electric vehicle manufacturer. With problems ranging from production woes with its Model 3 to a number of high-profile failures of its Autopilot system that resulted in the deaths of several drivers, this kind of public fight is the last thing the company needs if it's to achieve its goal of profitability by the end of the year.