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Tesla Rushes to Reopen Plants

Supply issues, equipment problems, COVID-19 rules blur plans
#asia #europe #facilities


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Tesla currently is producing no cars at either of its factories. The company hopes to remedy both issues within days.

State stay-home orders to help curb the coronavirus pandemic shuttered Tesla’s home plant outside San Francisco on March 23.


Image: Tesla

The company’s 4-month-old factory in Shanghai suspended work early this week, reportedly by parts shortages and emergency repairs to a critical piece of production equipment.

Go or No-Go in California

The timing of relaunches at both facilities remains muddied by conflicting orders in California and Tesla’s reluctance to discuss operational details about its plant in China.

On May 7 California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared that manufacturers may now resume production in the state. But he also said that county- and city-level authorities are free to retain more restrictive orders.

Tesla had hoped to reopen its home plant as early as May 8. But Alameda county, in which the facility sits, has been coy about going along with the state’s announcement.

As a statement by the county and other jurisdictions in the San Francisco Bay Area puts it, “We will continue to work with our community and business leaders to accomplish careful, measured progress that allows us to maintain our gains as we move forward to further reopening and better times ahead.”

Fuzzy Timing in China

Tesla’s now-idled new factory in Shanghai has been on a herky-jerky schedule since it began making Model 3 electric sedans in December.

Tesla’s plant in Shanghai  (Image: Tesla)

The plant was forced to shut down at the beginning of February by the coronavirus epidemic. But the factory became one of the first auto plants in China to resume operations when it reopened on Feb. 10.

The $2 billion facility closed for five days beginning last weekend for a national labor holiday. But employees, who expected to return on May 6, were told to wait until at least May 9, sources tell Bloomberg News. Tesla has declined to explain the delay.

Tesla said in January that in its first month of operation, the factory achieved—at least in brief spurts—a weekly production rate of 1,000 cars. The company also said it intends to reach a sustainable output of 2,000 units per week (104,000 per year) by the end of 2020.

Expanding Lineup

In the next several weeks, Tesla aims to add production of the $53,000 Model Y, a crossover variant of the Model 3, in Shanghai. Tesla began selling the new model from its California plant in March.

The company plans to begin making both models at its third facility, a factory under construction outside Berlin. When the plant opens in summer 2021, Tesla will have global capacity to make some 1.3 million electric vehicles per year.

Tesla also is shopping for a location in the U.S. to build a factory for its futuristic Cybertruck, which also could go into production in 2021.

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