American automaker Tesla Motors has emerged in as a radical new entrant in the automotive industry of today, not only introducing a new brand of vehicles for the consumers but also bringing about seminal changes in vehicle powertrains. The firm has focused aggressively on the electrification of cars and has since its conception only produced electric vehicles. Most people would agree that Tesla has fueled the ongoing march towards electrification in the industry more than any other player. So it comes as no surprise that any news around the EV giant is met with severe hype (though I admit the number of preorders for the Model 3 did surprise me).
Making waves on the internet these days is the fact that Tesla’s Fremont Factory is up for a significant overhaul. But before we discuss that, let’s take a step back and see what the Fremont factory is and what purpose does it serve Tesla. The Fremont factory is the primary manufacturing plant for Tesla as of today, employing around 10000 individuals and producing the Model S, Model X, and Model 3. Interestingly, the factory was not built by Tesla; instead, it was first opened as the “General Motors Fremont Assembly” back in 1962 and was later operated by New United Motor Manufacturing Inc, a joint venture of Toyota and GM, Tesla only took ownership in 2010 for the production of the Model S.
But it seems that Tesla’s recent ambitions have been a bit too much for the factory’s current capabilities (as amazing as they are!) and Tesla is rejiggering its car factory in Fremont, California, to make way for production of the Model Y crossover SUV, as well as a refresh of the Model S with a more minimalist interior design and a longer-range battery, according to several current and former employees. Whilst it is not official, CEO Elon Musk has hinted that production of the upcoming Model Y may begin in the Fremont factory, as Tesla awaits the completion of its third gigafactory in China, where the Model Y is expected to be produced later.
Making way for Model Y production in Fremont will require Tesla to combine Model S and Model X production into one line, according to the insiders. These lines at the car plant take up a significant amount of floor space today, at least partly because the S and X are each made with a lot of parts. The Model X, in particular, is especially complicated to build — mainly due to its signature falcon wing doors that open up, rather than out — which on once occasion made Elon Musk compare the Model X to a “Faberge Egg.” In addition to the Model Y, Tesla is planning on a full refresh of the Model S, which employees say will likely include an interior with the minimalist look and feel of the newer Model 3, the same drive units and seats used in the higher-end Model 3, and a battery that delivers 400 miles (640 km) of EPA rated range on a full charge, compared to the current king of the hill 100D’s 370 miles (592 km).
In addition to these reports, Tesla has also been canceling guided factory tours recently, Elon Musk tweeted that this was because of “upgrades” being made to the factory, though he didn’t say exactly what those upgrades entailed.