Self-Proclaimed Tesla ‘Whistleblower’ Tweet Dumps Allegations and Photos, Deletes Account

Martin Tripp posted a plethora of photos from the Gigafactory floor to refute Tesla’s denial of his claims.

byRob Stumpf|

Buckle up your seatbelts, ladies and gentleman, because the wild ride that is Martin Tripp's war on Tesla has suddenly reappeared in the public eye. If that name sounds familiar, it's because Tripp was the employee who Tesla filed a lawsuit against in June for leaking trade secrets and sabotaging its manufacturing plant. On Wednesday, Tripp took to Twitter to call out Musk & Co. directly, accusing the manufacturer of serious infractions surrounding batteries used in its newest Model 3 sedans.

The myriad of Tweets kicked off with several posts which included screenshots of reportedly affected VIN numbers (a searchable list is available at the end of this article), followed by what seems to be a PowerPoint presentation of how the battery reworking process is performed at the Gigafactory when a defective cell or module is identified.

The next photo allegedly shows a battery module in various states of refurbishment before it leaves the factory. Though this wasn't an example of a punctured cell (which would have a considerably different outcome), one might believe that the photos and Tripp's explanation of the shavings could be one source of punctures and dents that Tripp claims were prevalent among the cells. The below photos do appear to be of two different packs, but as the process behind the reworking is unknown, claiming either scenario would be speculation.

"This is a very common issue in which the ‘clamshell’ or plastic housing was lifted," explained Tripp. "So the Tech has to cut it away, grind off the adhesive and apply a new piece of plastic. These are never cleaned well, so there is debris and wood embedded between cells."

Another photo alleged to show cooling tubes that were to be used with the Model 3. Tripp claims that the tubes must be "straight,” similar to the tubes shown on the left of the photo, however, it is not mentioned if the tubes were within tolerances for the necessary cooling, or if they were genuinely faulty. These particular ribbon-shaped coolant tubes are meant to rest between battery cells in assembled modules and provide cooling during the charge and discharge process, ultimately allowing for greater thermal efficiency.

Shortly after, another photo appeared of tagged battery cells. Tripp claims the battery bandoliers which receive a red label are destined for scrap, while he believes that the yellow tag is meant for possible reworking. He goes on to say that between 400 and 750 bandoliers of batteries were scrapped every single shift.

Tripp also provided several photos of "hundreds" of trailers which he claims were loaded with Tesla scrap material. Photos which appear to be from inside the truck show assembled battery modules neatly placed on skids complete with the red tags that he had mentioned earlier. There are few photos of the interior of the trucks, so it's unclear if all trucks are believed to have battery cells or if they are filled with miscellaneous materials (if any at all). 

The ruthless allegations continue as Tripp posts photos which claim to be values of scrapped battery bandoliers, totaling 314,504 units at $114.6 million. This number is claimed to represent around 1.5 percent of the gross revenue from the first half of Tesla's fiscal year, an infinitesimal value compared to the $7.5 billion that the automaker brought in during the same period of time. In a previous statement to The Drive, Tesla denies the numbers produced by Tripp and claims that they have been exaggerated by a factor of more than two.

Additionally, 13 screenshots were posted with a combined total of 318 VIN numbers Tripp claimed were attached to defective battery cells in some way (either punctured, dented, or damaged in some way). After running some Optical Character Recognition on the images, we were able to create a dump of the VINs for Model 3 owners to search through. We have reached out to Tesla to ask if any action should be taken if your VIN is on this list, but have not received a response at the time of writing.

Tripp also denied that he was disgruntled over a denied promotion as the automaker claimed, stating that he had two years until retirement.

Allegations from both sides are polar opposites of each other; Tesla actively denied and discredited its accuser, all while Tripp claims to be a self-professed whistleblower against the company's practices. The public may not know all of the facts until they are presented at litigation, but Tripp certainly chose a time while Tesla CEO Elon Musk is in the media's eye.

Neither Tesla nor Tripp responded to our request for comment at the time of writing.