Leaked Video: Tesla Begins Validating Production Equipment At Gigafactory 3

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Leaked video and photos from inside Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory show significant amounts of the manufacturing equipment already installed as the company starts running vehicles through its new general assembly (GA) lines.

At the start of the video, a well-shielded manufacturing line in the distance looks similar to the assembly lines where the seats for Tesla’s vehicles were assembled. After being assembled from raw metal into seat frames, a team of workers at Tesla’s off-site seat factory in Fremont fitted the frames with the necessary mechanics, padding, and upholstery before storing them in a larger than life accumulator.

Farther along, the video shows several sections of the manufacturing lines equipped with armies of robots. Comparing them to the robots in Tesla’s only other automotive manufacturing facility, in Fremont, California, the section with the red robots looks similar to the body shop where stamped body parts are welded and glued together into full vehicle frames.

An accompanying series of photos posted to Chinese social media platform Weibo shows several vehicle blanks set up on a linear-flow general assembly line. The vehicles are clearly there to validate the lines, but they are not actively being assembled, as vehicles must be painted prior to having all of the more detailed pieces of the build added to the frame in GA.

The pre-marriage section of the GA lines shown in the photos at Tesla’s new Gigafactory 3 (GF3) head off into a two-storied section of the process. This is likely to be where the bodies are “married” to a rolling chassis and battery pack.

In the background of the GA photo, the large stamping press that cranks out Tesla’s stamped metal body parts is visible along with a stack of side panels for the Model 3. Again, these parts were likely to have been shipped in for equipment validation rather than produced at the new Gigafactory, but it’s exciting just the same.

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Alongside the stack of body panels, another small army of red robots are likely to be a part of Tesla’s body shop. This creates a nice logical production flow from the press section producing body parts to the body shop assembling them into completed vehicle frames, which would need to pop out to a paint shop before coming back over to the GA lines to have the smaller parts of the car bolted, clipped, or glued on.

The video and photos are by no means conclusive evidence that Tesla is making progress at GF3, as just getting the equipment bolted into place does not equate to the ability to produce quality vehicles. Just the same, they do provide an early look into Tesla’s first ground-up automotive manufacturing facility. Tesla continues to push forward at a pace that seems to defy logic and it continues on track to move GF3 from a muddy field to a full-fledged automotive factory in less than 12 months.

Tesla GF3 automotive production equipment. (Yes, the only original of this photo collage that is available to the public is fuzzy like this.) Image credit: Tesla

In its Q2 2019 investor update letter, Tesla said that the first equipment had been moved into GF3 in Q2 for the first phase of production. “We are looking forward to starting production in China by the end of this year,” Tesla said in the letter. “Depending on the timing of the Gigafactory Shanghai ramp, we continue to target production of over 500,000 vehicles globally in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2020.”

Source: Weibo via Twitter

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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