There has been much backing and forthing at Tesla about whether it should keep its US manufacturing facilities open during the coronavirus pandemic. According to a press release from Tesla, the decision has now been taken to temporarily suspend production at its automobile factory in Fremont, California and its solar factory in Buffalo, New York, as of Monday. The last cars in Fremont will come off the assembly line Monday night. Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada will remain in full operation.
Both states have been hit hard by the virus and California’s governor announced on Thursday he is ordering all 40 million inhabitants of the state to stay home. That action by the governor may have been the final piece that convinced Tesla to cease operations, after several days of uncertainty during which the company and local authorities wrestled over whether it would shut down or stay open.
Tesla said in a statement, “In the past few days, we have met with local, state and federal officials. We have followed and are continuing to follow all legal directions and safety guidelines with respect to the operations of our facilities, and have honored the federal government’s direction to continue operating. Despite taking all known health precautions, continued operations in certain locations has caused challenges for our employees, their families and our suppliers.” The company says it will continue to operate some basic operations such as its Supercharger network and service centers.
It is still considered an open question whether automobile production is considered an essential service on the federal level. We will update you have something notable changes with Tesla’s production plans. Tesla’s factory in Shanghai, China, is producing cars at this time, with its full ecosystem of suppliers back in operation following China’s earlier shutdowns.
Tesla is shut down temporarily, but it looks like their sector IS considered critical. Let's stop with the 'OMG THEY'RE BREAKING THE LAW' drama.
California order: https://t.co/KQyIreX31i
16 critical infrastructure sectors: https://t.co/mDbFcSxSLM pic.twitter.com/auMtevhMUI
— Bonnie Norman (@bonnienorman) March 20, 2020
“In many locations, we are in the process of implementing ‘touchless deliveries’ so customers can continue to take delivery of their vehicle in a seamless and safe way,” the company statement said. How does that work? People picking up their new Tesla can now open the doors with their Tesla app, sign the delivery paperwork left for them inside the vehicle, drop it off at the delivery location, and drive away without ever coming in contact with another person.
Tesla is also still doing home deliveries in some cases. The following is a photo from a friend of CleanTechnica. He bought a Tesla Model 3 after test driving his son’s VW e-Golf, reading this article about 70 reasons Tesla Model 3 owners love their cars, going on a test drive, and ordering that night. He had it delivered to his home yesterday. We have an article on that coming soon.
Dazed & Confused In Fremont
Tesla employees are understandably confused. A few who spoke with BuzzFeed indicated they received an internal email saying they would be paid through Monday and would be provided with “paid leave during suspended operations.” Asked what that means, one worker admitted “none of us are really sure,” but that “some money is better than none.” That person, who asked to remain anonymous, told BuzzFeed he and his colleagues will keep showing up for work until the facility is closed.
As of this moment, no one knows how long the production shutdown in Fremont and Buffalo will last. Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Toyota, and Nissan have all said they will close their factories in the United States. Hyundai has already shuttered its Alabama factory after a worker tested positive for the virus, according to USA Today.
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