Tesla Faces Federal Probes Over Elon Musk Glass House – Report

Tesla is reportedly facing two US federal investigations over allegations it is building Elon Musk a large glass house in Texas.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the Manhattan federal prosecutors and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are both investigating Tesla over alleged use of company funds for a secret project described internally as a house for Elon Musk.

The spacious glass house is said to be near Austin, Texas, and is allegedly meant to be for Musk’s personal use.

SpaceX’s Chief Engineer Elon Musk and T-Mobile’s CEO Mike Sievert

Glass house

The two new federal probes are said to be over possible misuse of company resources or funds by or for the personal benefit of CEO Elon Musk.

According to the WSJ report, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and, separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission, are seeking information about how much Tesla has spent in order to plan and build the secretive project.

The SEC investigation into the Tesla glass house is said be called “Project 42” internally.

According to a WSJ report in July, plans for “Project 42” resembled Apple’s store at Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York. It reportedly took the shape of a twisted hexagon on waterfront land with Tesla’s Austin factory behind it.

The WSJ said the proposed building at the Texas headquarters had been described as a house for Musk.

Other images of the project showed a large glass box that appeared to include a residential element, the WSJ reported.

It said Tesla lawyers and board members had looked at the project after employees raised concerns about how a multimillion dollar order for glass was going to be used.

The status of the project and the order for the glass was unknown, the WSJ reported, adding that the investigations were in their early stages and may not lead to charges.

There has been no comment from Tesla, Musk and the Manhattan US attorney’s office so far. The SEC also reportedly declined to comment.

Earlier this year in March the WSJ also reported that Musk was planning to build a “sort of Texas utopia” outside Austin, near facilities for his Boring tunnelling company and his SpaceX rocket company, where his employees could live and work.

Range investigation

The WSJ report also reported that the Manhattan federal prosecutors were separately looking into whether Tesla had deliberately misrepresented the battery range for its electric cars.

In August three Tesla owners in California launched a proposed class action lawsuit against Tesla, accusing the firm of falsely advertising the estimated driving ranges of its electric vehicles (EVs).

That lawsuit cited a Reuters report in July, which alleged that Tesla had created a secret “Diversion Team” in Nevada to cancel as many range-related service appointments as possible with owners, after becoming inundated with complaints.

Reuters reported that Tesla cars often failed to achieve their advertised range estimates and projections reported by the cars’ own equipment, citing experts who tested or studied them.

An unnamed source in that Reuters report alleged that Tesla had rigged the dashboard readouts in its electric cars to provide “rosy” projections of how far owners can drive before needing to recharge.

The directive to present the optimistic range estimates allegedly came from CEO Elon Musk, the source told Reuters, which could not determine whether Tesla still uses algorithms that boost range estimates.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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