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Tesla hit with 'extensive' sabotage by rogue employee: Elon Musk

San Francisco

A DISGRUNTLED Tesla Inc employee broke into the company's manufacturing operating system and sent highly sensitive data to unknown third parties, according to an email CEO Elon Musk sent to staff.

The worker, who had been denied a promotion, did "quite extensive and damaging sabotage" to Tesla's operations, Mr Musk wrote in the memo late on Sunday, which was reported in full by CNBC.

Tesla is conducting an in-depth investigation into the matter, including whether the employee was acting alone, with others at the company or with any outside organisations, Mr Musk wrote.

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"As you know, there are a long list of organisations that want Tesla to die," Mr Musk said.

He referenced Wall Street short sellers "who have already lost billions of dollars", oil and gas companies that "don't love" to see solar power and electric cars advancing, and automakers that produce petrol and diesel vehicles.

"If they're willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they're willing to cheat in other ways?" he added.

A day later, Mr Musk invoked a late tech titan in urging workers to keep an eye out for any funny business after a fire briefly halted car output.

In a "strange incident that was hard to explain", Mr Musk wrote that a small fire on a manufacturing line had stopped production for several hours.

"Could just be a random event, but as Andy Grove said: 'Only the paranoid survive'," Mr Musk wrote on Monday, referring to the former chairman and CEO of Intel Corp. "Please be on the alert for anything that's not in the best interests of our company." BLOOMBERG