Note: Everything that follows is based on comments made by Tesla employees to CNBC News. Nothing has been officially confirmed by Tesla despite multiple requests.
CNBC is reporting that Tesla has decided to manufacture the upcoming Model Y electric SUV at the existing factory in Fremont, California. There has been speculation for months that the Model Y could be the first Tesla vehicle built at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. Elon Musk has previously said that the Model Y could be built in Nevada or in Fremont, that the decision hadn’t been made. Though, the Gigafactory seemed to be preferred at one point.
If true, what the news means is that until the Shanghai factory gets up and running, all Tesla automobiles will be built in California. At the rapid pace of progress in Shanghai, though, Model Y production may start there when it starts in the USA.
Employees tell CNBC the company has just begun ordering the tooling needed to construct the Model Y assembly line. In order to make room within the already congested factory, the Model S and Model X will be built on one assembly line. Today, they are built on separate lines.
The Model X, as good as it is (and it is very, very good), stands as a memorial to Musk’s and Tesla’s manufacturing inexperience. The X was supposed to be built on the S chassis, but the way things turned out, 70% of the parts needed to manufacture the X were different from the sedan. In particular, the iconic falcon-wing doors required a separate assembly line, at least at first.
Tesla has learned its lesson. Even though Musk wanted significant differences between the 3 and the Y, his manufacturing specialists talked him out of that plan. As a result, the Y and the 3 will share many common parts and components, speeding production and lowering costs.
Several Teslascenti had reported their Tesla factory tours had been cancelled because of changes taking place at the Fremont facility, but Elon Musk chimed in on Twitter (apparently changing company plans) and said tours were still available but some parts of the factory would no longer be included because of ongoing factory upgrades.
(Note: You can always enjoy our special custom tour of the Tesla Fremont factory on YouTube.)
Tesla Model S Refresh Coming
People working at the Fremont factory also tell CNBC a refreshed Model S is scheduled to start production in September. They say the “new” Model S will have an all-new interior that borrows from the minimalist look and feel of the Model 3. (In other words, if you prefer the more traditional look of the current S & X interior, now is a good time to buy. If you like the minimalism of the Model 3, you may want to wait.)
Tesla will also use the same drive motors as the Model 3 and the seats the company uses in the top-of-the-line versions of the Model 3.
With more efficient motors and unspecified changes to the battery pack, the updated Model S will have an EPA range of 400 miles or more, they say.
Those sources also say that production of the Model S and Model X is only happening during regular working hours Monday through Friday — no weekend or second shift work is being done. Whether that is because demand for the two cars is softening or because Tesla is getting better at building them is unclear.
Tesla cut the price of the Model S by $3,000 and the Model X by $2,000 last week. It is also expanding the amount of free Supercharging available to buyers of both models. In that now infamous tweet by Elon Musk earlier this year, he said his company would produce about 400,000 vehicles this year and be on pace to build 600,000 a year by the end of 2019. What the mix of cars will be has not been revealed.
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