Tesla cut prices in the United States by 2% and almost 6%, as the company’s website showed on Thursday. This is part of the company’s effort to sell more electric cars, which analysts say could hurt the company’s profits.
Since the start of the year, this is the fifth price cut in Tesla’s biggest market. It comes as the United States prepares to adopt stricter standards that are expected to limit E.V. tax credits this month.
The website showed that Tesla cut the prices of both versions of its Model 3 sedan by $1,000 and of its Model Y crossover by $2,000. It also cut the prices of both the Model S and Model X, which are more expensive, by $5,000.
Since January, the company has said that the stricter U.S. standards would make the $7,500 tax credit for its base Model 3 with rear-wheel drive less valuable.
Some analysts worried that Tesla’s high-profit margins, which are the best in the industry, could be at risk if there were more price cuts.
This week, Tesla said that it delivered almost 423,000 cars in the first quarter. However, this is only a 4% increase from the previous quarter, before price cuts in the U.S., China, and other markets.
This year, Tesla wants to send out 1.8 million cars.
Since the start of the year, Tesla has taken 11% off the price of its base Model 3 and 20% off its base Model Y.
Employees at Tesla shared owners’ personal videos
A report from Reuters says that Tesla employees passed around and made fun of private videos recorded by car cameras. The videos were reportedly shared through Tesla’s internal messaging systems from 2019 to 2022. They were made with cameras built into Tesla cars to help them drive themselves.
Sources who spoke to Reuters said that the recordings shared by Tesla employees ranged from graphic crashes and road rage to more embarrassing scenes, like a video of a naked man walking up to a car. Some employees may have even used screenshots from recorded videos to make memes, which they then shared in private group chats.
Reuters says that Tesla used to have a policy that let customers sign off on the company getting recordings from cars that were not running. However, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) investigated and found that Tesla cars “often filmed everyone who came near the car.” So by 2023, all of Tesla’s cars will have their cameras turned off by default.
In 2019, Tesla released a feature called “Sentry Mode,” advertised to warn drivers of suspicious activity near their parked cars and then store the information in the car’s memory. In 2021, Tesla changed this feature so drivers could use the cameras in their cars to live stream what was happening around them from the Tesla app.
On its support page for the feature, Tesla says, “Sentry Mode recordings are not sent to us.” It also says that live streams are encrypted from beginning to end and that the company “cannot access” them. After the DPA’s investigation, Tesla also made some other privacy-related changes to Sentry Mode. Now, cameras only start recording when someone touches the car, not as soon as they see something suspicious. Tesla cars also let people know that they are recording by flashing their headlights.
The Netherlands is one of many places people worry about Tesla’s Sentry Mode. Germany’s VZBZ sued Tesla last year, saying that Sentry Mode “violates data protection law.” Last year, Tesla cars were also banned from China’s Beidaihe district because people were worried that the cars’ cameras would record a private meeting between the country’s top leaders. The Chinese military also banned Tesla cars in 2021 for the same reason: they were worried that the cars’ cameras would be used for surveillance.
A Tesla owner in California has filed a possible class action lawsuit against the electric car company, saying that it violates customers’ privacy.
The lawsuit was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of California on Friday.
It happened after reports on Thursday that groups of Tesla employees used an internal messaging system to share videos and pictures taken by customers’ car cameras between 2019 and 2022. Some of these videos and pictures were very private and could be seen by anyone.
Henry Yeh, who lives in San Francisco and owns a Tesla Model Y, said in the lawsuit that Tesla employees could access the photos and videos for “tasteless and torturous entertainment” and “the humiliation of those secretly recorded.”
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The lawsuit said that Tesla’s actions are “especially bad” and “highly offensive.”
It said that Yeh was filing the lawsuit “against Tesla on behalf of himself, other people in the same situation, and the general public.” The complaint said that people who owned or rented a Tesla in the last four years would be part of the proposed class.
Some Tesla employees claimed they could see customers “doing laundry and other private things. We could see their kids,” a former employee who did not want to be named told Reuters.