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Tesla to lay off nearly 200 Autopilot employees, Bentley exec talks EV push

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Yahoo Finance auto reporter Pras Subramanian breaks down Tesla laying off almost 200 employees and shuttering its San Mateo office, the White House detailing its $700 million investment in the EV space, and Bentley's Director of Motorsport Paul Williams explaining the company's push towards electric vehicles.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- Tesla shares under continuing pressure, down about 43% year-to-date, falling about 2% on this day. And now layoffs hitting their autopilot unit. Senior Autos Reporter Pras Subramanian here with the latest. Is this what Elon Musk kind of warned about a little while back?

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Yeah, I think it's sort of the follow on of that warning, but it's an odd situation, odd timing in this one particular area, because 200 jobs in the autopilot division. This division has been under scrutiny from NHTSA because of all those crashes at those emergency accident sites. So it's a little bit odd that they're cutting staff in that area. Also, it's either cutting hourly staff, not salaried staff, which is what Elon had hinted, said about how they wanted to cut salaried, not hourly. So it was a little strange cutting those contractors, but also strange in that one unit that is having so much kind of attention put on it right now from the government.

- And this really isn't the way you want to mark the 12th anniversary of Tesla going public, but perhaps the Biden administration is offering more details on its electric vehicle charging infrastructure. What can you tell us about that?

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Yeah, leaning more harder into this EV, the infrastructure portion of the bipartisan law that he signed last year, now touting the private money, $700 million in new private money coming into that investment. Some big partners here, Electrify America working with VW and also Siemens. Siemens also putting in a few hundred million bucks into this as well to have new jobs and new chargers.

But also they mentioned Tesla. In the White House fact sheet, Tesla mentioned for the first time, I think, talking about how they're going to invest new money into their gigafactory in Buffalo, but also invest money into these charging stations that will allow non-Tesla owners to charge at these supercharger locations. It's kind of a big deal. Interesting names, interesting numbers too.

- Yeah, it certainly is a huge deal as we talk about a wider EV adoption process. You're fresh off the plane from the UK and you were overseas taking a look at Bentley's factory over there, also talking to them about their big push into EVs. What did you learn?

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Yeah, I was lucky enough to go to the factory in Crewe, England over there, the big Bentley factory, really world-famous factory line there, all these famous cars built there. But I really got a cool look into the Mulliner division, which is like their specialty custom bespoke area. They're going to make this Mulliner division like their new kind of AMG for Mercedes or M line for BMW.

They're more like a higher end subdivision there for the brands. And I spoke to Paul Williams there, the head of that division about the EV kind of push and what that means for his customers at that high end. Here's what he had to say.

PAUL WILLIAMS: We've dedicated ourselves to going electric and really, really quickly as a brand, and we see this as a huge opportunity. And of course, we have customers who love combustion, I do as well, and it's a great thing to experience. But when you experience an EV vehicle and you can see what it can do, and how that can be at the same time the most incredible performance, like the coal we saw yesterday at [? Goodwood, ?] but at the same time, are the most incredible luxury, the ability to be super quiet and to enable you, again, with the flexibility that electrical platforms offer, the ability to customize a car even more, create even more something special and bespoke for the customers as well. These are great opportunities with EVs.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Yeah, so Bentley going to go full EV by 2030 with their first EV car coming off the line in 2025.

- Were you able to get behind the wheel of a Bentley while you were there?

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: You know, I got to ride in a 1929--

- There we go. That's what we wanted to know.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: 1929 race winning, no roof, tires this thin. I got a ride in that car. You sit next to driver and you're just like, your elbows and shoulders next to each other. It's a really kind of tight kind of feel, but super cool to go out on the English countryside. The sun was out that day, a lot of fun.

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