A few weeks ago, Tesla brought CleanTechnica inside its Fremont automotive factory in Northern California for a custom tour of its Model 3 production line and gave an exclusive look at its in-house seat factory a few blocks away.
This week, we are launching our final video from our visit to the Fremont factory, where Chanan Bos takes us into Tesla’s body shop and general assembly areas. These are two of the most transformative and visually interesting parts of the factory, as the body shop takes the blank body panels from Tesla’s stamping press and welds them together, one step at a time, into a beautiful bare metal body.
The predictable shapes of Tesla’s body panels and the easily repeatable welding and adhesion process lend themselves well to automation, and Tesla has capitalized on this by automating around 90% of the tasks in the body shop. Automating tasks like welding and moving around heavy parts of the car also improves the safety of the factory, as workers are no longer directly exposed to the welding process and the slag it creates. Similarly, employees’ backs are not subjected to the lifting, twisting, and turning that would otherwise be required to assemble the various body panels needed to put a vehicle together.
The general assembly area lived at the center of Tesla’s Model 3 “production hell” as the company pushed the limits on vehicle assembly automation, finally settling on a healthy medium that saw more humans and fewer robots in that area of the factory than initially planned. The company came away from the production ramp with an improved understanding of what was possible and what was beneficial when it came to adding robots to its production lines.
General assembly is where all of the major components of the Model 3 are finally put together into a finished vehicle. The centerpiece of general assembly is what Tesla calls marriage. It is where the skateboard of the car — which includes the battery pack, motors, and suspension — are bolted onto the vehicle body for the first time.
After this dramatic moment, interior components are bolted in and integrated. Don’t take my word for it, just check out Chanan’s beautiful creation below.