Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury and stress: ‘Everything feels like the future but us’

Exclusive: CEO Elon Musk defends workplace, saying ‘[we are not] just greedy capitalists who skimp on safety’ – and declares his $50bn company overvalued

When Tesla bought a decommissioned car factory in Fremont, California, Elon Musk transformed the old-fashioned, unionized plant into a much-vaunted “factory of the future”, where giant robots named after X-Men shape and fold sheets of metal inside a gleaming white mecca of advanced manufacturing.

The appetite for Musk’s electric cars, and his promise to disrupt the carbon-reliant automobile industry, has helped Tesla’s value exceed that of both Ford and, briefly, General Motors (GM). But some of the human workers who share the factory with their robotic counterparts complain of grueling work pressure they attribute to Musk’s aggressive production goals, and sometimes life-changing injuries.

Related: Female engineer sues Tesla, describing a culture of ‘pervasive harassment’

I’ve seen people pass out, hit the floor like a pancake and smash their face open

It’s incredibly hurtful and I think false for anyone to claim that I don’t care

When workers told managers about pain, they responded: ‘We all hurt. You can’t man up?’

Related: Rocket men: why tech’s biggest billionaires want their place in space

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