In the latest issue of The New Yorker, Hallie Cantor describes an imaginary meeting between millennial icon Elon Musk and his PR team. The humor column ironizes the electric car pioneer’s recent claims that he is a socialist:
“Musk: Socialism, to me, means that, once Earth is uninhabitable, I get to decide who lives and who dies, because I have the capital. Is that easy enough for you to understand?
(The executives nod, terrified.)
Musk: And, if my employees don’t like working for twenty-four hours straight in conditions where they might get run over by a forklift because I disabled the alarm sound that forklifts make when they back up because I don’t like beeping noises, then they can quit.”
Musk’s Twitter claims that he’s a better kind of socialist, though his company is built on a capitalist model, prompted journalists to write Orwellian headlines like, “Elon Musk is a socialist if socialism is capitalism.”
Now that Musk’s orders to bypass an important break test on the Tesla Model 3 have been leaked, we might readily say, “Elon Musk puts safety first if safety is the danger.”
For all his public displays of advanced save-the-planet mentality, Musk now appears to have put the lives of his very own customers at risk.
An internal document proving just that recently reached the hands of Business Insider journalists. Its text proves that Musk “ordered his employees to stop putting nearly finished Model 3s through a critical test before leaving the company’s factory in Fremont, California,” according to the publication.
Brake-and-roll tests are meant to ensure a vehicle is appropriately aligned. It is considered a critical quality and performance test in the automotive industry. The leaked document shows Musk specifically asked the engineering team in charge of Model 3 to do away with the test, so, the vehicles could move along the production line faster.
The discontinued test involves observing how breaks react in different scenarios. When asked about the matter, Tesla spokespeople have been evasive. It is as yet unclear how many vehicles left the factory without undergoing the break-and-roll test.
Alignment is not a given when a car has been completed. This makes break tests critical to consider the cars ready for the road. As Musk has been racing against time to put 5,000 Model 3s on the street per week, it is easy to conjecture that bypassing the test was a decision he made to boost profits and production speed. As for safety, well, that appears to have been put on hold for now.
John Uustal is a Ft. Lauderdale trial lawyer with a national law practice focused on serious injuries resulting from dangerous and poorly designed products. His upcoming book, Corporate Serial Killers, focuses on companies that choose profits over safety.