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Boring Company Tunnels May Be Key To Tesla Factory Congestion

Last week, Elon Musk hinted that he may use the Boring Company to dig a tunnel between the Tesla factory in Fremont to the seat manufacturing facility a mile away in order to remove one of the bottlenecks holding up volume production of the Model 3.

During last week’s earnings call, Elon Musk spent quite a bit of time talking about solving bottlenecks in the manufacturing process so the company can get on with building its cars in larger volume, particularly the much anticipated and oft delayed Model 3. In its letter to investors, the company hinted that it will be one of the first customers for its Tesla Semi heavy duty trucks and will use them to haul cargo back and forth between the Gigafactory in Nevada and the main factory in Fremont.

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That makes perfect sense. By using the trucks itself, it will in effect become its own beta tester, which will help it spot and resolve any issues that crop up before it begins deliveries to paying customers. It will also eliminate the diesel emissions that conventional tractor trailers spew into the atmosphere when they drive between Nevada and Fremont.

Elon told his audience last week they should all just chill about Model 3 production delays. “I’m hopeful that people think that if we can send a Roadster to the asteroid belt, we could probably solve Model 3 production,” Musk said according to a report by Inverse. One idea Musk is considering is using The Boring Company to construct a tunnel from the seat factory located a mile away to the main production line. “[W]e actually get constrained on how many trucks dock and undock at the seat factory, which is only…half a mile or a mile away from the vehicle plant,” Musk said. “So it’ll be pretty easy to just have a tunnel, do an automated conveyance from seats to the factory.”

Congestion at the factory is an ongoing problem, with workers often fighting each other to find a parking space. As production increases, more and more trucks accessing the property will contribute to more and more congestion. Ultimately, the factor constraining production may not be how fast the line runs but how quickly Tesla can get parts and components unloaded and into the factory.

Musk has said that building 700,000 cars a year at the Fremont factory “seems achievable” — which is Musk-speak for “It will take a superhuman effort by all concerned and involve many sleepless nights, but if we can build reusable rockets that land themselves autonomously, we can figure out how to run a factory efficiently.”

Among other things, building a tunnel in Fremont would be another “proof of concept” opportunity for Musk as he races to upset the transportation, mobility, space exploration, battery storage, and internet sectors of the global economy. So fear not, Tesla fans. Elon’s got this.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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