Weilai lays off 141 people in Silicon Valley and slashes autonomous driving team

California Department of Employment Development show that Chinese electric car startup Wei Lai has laid off another 141 people at its North American headquarters in San Jose. This is the company’s third round of layoffs for its U.S. employees this year, with the layoffs mostly concentrated in the R & D and engineering departments.

Weilai has laid off 70 people in May this year and closed its San Francisco office. Then in September, the company laid off another 62 people. According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Weilai had a total of 640 employees in the United States early this year.

Weilai North America’s director of public relations, JoAnn Yamani, said the company had closed its vehicle engineering and electric drive operations at its San Jose office, but most of the layoffs came from autonomous driving teams. Yamani said that these initiatives are related to the cooperation of Intel’s autonomous driving unit Mobileye, which has led to “a lot of redundant and repetitive work as we move towards the goal of level 4 autonomous driving.”

Before coming to a merger with Mobileye, Weilai was developing its own fully autonomous vehicle technology, and Armani said the work was still ongoing. But now it can rely more on Mobileye, so Weilai sees opportunities to continue cutting costs globally, including cutting more jobs in the United States.

Weilai’s first electric SUV ES shipment in August reached a peak of about 3,000 vehicles per month at the end of 2018, but it will decline rapidly in 2019. All this caused Weilai to lose nearly $ 900 million in the first half of 2019, and lost more than $ 5 billion since its establishment in 2015.

Weilai decided to lay off its global workforce from nearly 10,000 to about 7,800, sold its Formula E racing team, and postponed the release of an upcoming car. At the same time, the company’s three top executives, including a co-founder, also left the company this year.

The company stated earlier this year: “After four years of rapid growth, we have established a global organization. However, rapid development has also led to duplication of functional departments, unclear job tasks, unclear job responsibilities, certain staff Issues, etc. “

Weilai started shipping a smaller, more affordable electric SUV earlier this year, called the ES6, and achieved some level of success early. Weilai has increased the delivery of ES6 to about 2,500 vehicles per month, although the company’s sales in November were only slightly higher than in October.

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