Tesla employee laid off without warning tells of living in car at factory

Nico Murillo is the proud owner of a Tesla Model Y, mainly because he’s part of the team that built these cars at the factory in Fremont.

But on April 15, his dream job would sound more like a nightmare.

"I was on my way to work, and then I got a personal email about my position had been eliminated," Murillo told KTVU.

In disbelief, he showed up to work.

"I got my badge, went to the turnstile, and then it didn’t work, and it turned red and started beeping, and I was like, ‘is this real’?"

The 29-year-old is just one of the roughly 14,000 Tesla employees to be laid off since April – ten percent of the company’s workforce.

Over the course of five years, Murillo would climb the ladder to production supervisor, overseeing the assembly of EVs.

Committed to his career, he would spend much of 2023 sleeping in the back of his car, during the week, after every shift.

Murillo would heat up his meals in a Tesla break room microwave and shower at the factory, sacrifices he thought were worth it, to avoid the daily three-hour round trip to his house in the Central Valley town of Lathrop, northeast of Tracy.

Tesla’s latest employment move – going from more than 3,000 worldwide jobs openings on its website to just three.

One tech expert suggests Tesla owner Elon Musk posting his opinions on social media is partly to blame for the company’s current slump.

"What Elon Musk did with ‘X’ or Twitter was not helping, San Jose State University engineering professor Ahmed Banafa told KTVU. "It’s turned off some of the people that didn’t want to be associated with a brand like that."

Banafa explained the popularity of hybrids, competition from China, concerns over battery replacement costs, and the lack of EV chargers across much of the country, all contribute to Tesla’s trouble.

The industry as a whole, Banafa said, is focused on the next wave in tech: artificial intelligence.

"My analogy, I play football, it’s like, things go wrong, the other team, they get the ball, and then you know, you just got to work with what you got," Murillo said.

While he is concerned about the job security of his two brothers who both work at Tesla, he holds no animosity against his former company and still sports the merch.

"I think Tesla really taught me how to overcome challenges really quick," Murillo said, adding that Tesla did not give him any warning about the layoffs, but they did offer severance pay, although he declined to specify how much.

Since being laid off, Murillo put his house on the market, and once it sells, he plans to live in his car again.

Instead of paying the mortgage, he wants to invest in the stock market for a few years.

He has already landed on his feet and started a new job as the manager of a GNC store in Pleasanton.

KTVU reached out to Tesla for comment but did not hear back.