Coincidentally, right around the same time as Alameda County has once again been inundated with coronavirus cases, and just hours after we reported that 15% of Tesla employees have been affected by coronavirus at Fremont, the company has conveniently decided to shut its Fremont factory down for “major upgrades”.
At least, that’s the PR line-du jour that was handed to the pro-Tesla lot over at electrek, who broke the news on Wednesday morning. And what better way to improve things in Fremont – especially now that your company is bordering on a $275 billion market cap – than adding another tent?
Electrek writes that the “plans included a new tent-like structure for a new assembly line”:
“Now we are told that Tesla plans to do something similar for Model Y and deploy some production capacity under a sprung structure to go in operation when they can reopen the plant.”
“The strategy follows Tesla’s famous GA4 assembly line built under a tent-like structure in 2018,” they reported. Famous? Not quite the word we would use. Infamous, perhaps.
The piece then goes on to defend the idea of building another tent: “At the time, Tesla received a lot of criticism for the unusual approach, but the new general assembly capacity helped Tesla increase Model 3 production to 5,000 units per week and accelerate Tesla’s growth.”
Apparently electrek hasn’t checked in on the quality of these vehicles anytime recently and has apparently missed bumpers flying off in traffic and cars swerving into oncoming traffic without warning.
“Since March, Tesla’s GA4 line has been focused on building Model Y vehicles instead of Model 3,” the blog says. Yeah, and the Model Y has received some of the most horrifying quality reviews of any vehicle we’ve seen in recent memory, as we noted days ago.
The shutdown is expected by end of the month and the company will dub its new line GA4.5. Recall, last month, CEO Elon Musk told employees that GA4 “facility improvements” were a “top priority”:
“Model Y, especially GA (stands for General Assembly), is the top priority for both production and manufacturing engineering. GA4 (stands for General Assembly Line 4) is also top priority for facility improvements. For those working in GA4, thank you for bearing with tough conditions. Will get better fast. I will be walking the line personally every week.”
As for the timing and length of the shutdown, electrek doesn’t seem to have a clue – which leads us to believe the company may not either:
It’s not clear exactly when the factory shutdown will happen, but apparently it’s going to be around the end of the month.
My understanding is that some of the upgrades are disruptive enough that it will require shutting down production at large parts of the plant.
It might just take a few days or a week, it’s not clear at this time.
Some have suggested the shutdown could be for other reasons than regular maintenance. The timing does seem a bit curious, doesn’t it? Said one astute observer:
Definitely couldn’t have done these upgrades 2 months ago while keeping maintenance staff at factory during shutdown.
— luis carruthers (@orthereaboot) July 15, 2020