But of course.

Cut and Run

Tesla shocked the auto industry this week after its CEO Elon Musk fired the entire 500 person team working on its vaunted Supercharger network, a project that's considered instrumental in facilitating EV adoption across the country with its quick and convenient charging stations.

But there's another interesting detail to this story: as pointed out by Jalopnik, citing previous reporting by Politico, before Tesla backed down from the project, it had received more than $17 million in federal grants for its Supercharger network.

In fact, the automaker is the biggest winner of the EV push in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by President Joe Biden — whom Musk is a frequent critic of — earning 13 percent of all EV charging awards.

That Tesla is now ditching or at least significantly scaling back the network — signaled by the layoffs and its backing out of Supercharger location leases — is eyebrow-raising, to say the least.

Cash Cow

Yet as far as benefiting from big government money goes, $17 million is a drop in the bucket for Musk, who's publicly criticized — if not smeared — other entities, including NPR, for receiving such funding.

SpaceX alone, arguably Musk's most successful venture, has received more than $15.3 billion worth of government contracts since 2003, most of which is from NASA.

But it also continues to earn quite a bit from the Department of Defense; Reuters reported last month that SpaceX, as part of a staggering $1.8 billion contract signed with the DoD in 2021, was building a spy satellite network for a US intelligence agency.

Slow Death

Musk's culling of the Supercharging team could raise questions about how those federal grants are being put to use. The decision is especially puzzling given that Tesla's charging network is by far the largest in the country. It's so dominant, in fact, that other automakers like Rivian and Ford have adopted Tesla's NCAS charging standard.They may be regretting that now.

Still, amid reported confusion among automakers, Musk took to X-formerly-Twitter to assure that he wasn't fully giving up on the program.

"Tesla still plans to grow the Supercharger network, just at a slower pace for new locations and more focus on 100 percent uptime and expansion of existing locations," he said.

Even if Musk is telling the truth here, firing your entire department seems like overkill. Who's left holding the bag? Well, we know who's holding the one stuffed full of federal money, at least.

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