It’s hard to believe, but just 10 years after Tesla got an empty and apocalyptic factory from GM & Toyota in Fremont, California, it has two giant factories operational, one gigafactory half operational (a fully owned factory in China), and two gigafactories under construction (in Germany and Texas). I know Tesla CEO Elon Musk is an ambitious and optimistic guy, but I’m sure he didn’t have such high expectations for Tesla back in 2010. He might have had hopes of such progress, but I think the level of execution and growth is even beyond what he had in mind at the time.
Exactly 10 years ago today, Tesla opened its Fremont factory! GM & Toyota had abandoned the former NUMMI plant, but Tesla brought it back to life.
2010: 1000 employees
2020: >10,000 employees
— Viv 🐉 (@flcnhvy) October 27, 2020
All that was left were broken bots & equipment hardly worth the scrap metal value. But we scrounged up spare parts, fixed the trusty old bots & brought the factory back to life.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 27, 2020
"Getting back to 2012, he noted how empty and 'post-apocalyptic' the Fremont factory seemed." (@daveydo2000: 'Post-apocalyptic' because of the remnants of the old GM/Toyota equipment that sat dormant in the vast, yet to be used, sections of the factory.")
— evobsession (@evobsession) October 28, 2020
To the best of my knowledge, literally zero equipment was usable without major repairs or upgrades.
Most of the factory had no equipment at all! Even light bulbs were missing in some areas.
GM & Toyota took everything that worked & moved it to their other factories.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 27, 2020
Jumping forward to October 2020, there was reportedly an accident with some communications around Tesla orders in the Netherlands this week. Some buyers received a text message that their Model Y would be delivered in December. Apparently, that was just a slip in communications, but it did bring some other information to the fore.
Tesla is reportedly telling customers in the Netherlands that they can expect Model Y deliveries to begin in Q1 or Q2 of 2021, and that those Model Y SUVs will be coming from Tesla Giga Berlin. Teslarati reports that a customer in the Netherlands told them on Tuesday:
“This morning, I got a call from Tesla in the Netherlands with some questions on my order. In that conversation, the Tesla employee told me that they expect to deliver my Berlin build model Y in Q1 or Q2 of 2021. They had just received an internal update on the building process in Berlin.”
Tesla’s latest official statements about Giga Berlin are that production is expected to begin in 2021. So, this update gives us a little more precision on the expected delivery schedule. As of late, Tesla has typically been ahead of schedule on construction and production timelines, so I would lean toward European Model Y deliveries beginning in Q1. However, note that Tesla is innovating yet again at the Berlin factory. As previously reported, it will use large front casting for the Model Y built there, and Elon has spoken about radical changes to its manufacturing processes there.
“It will be the first time that there will be a transformation in the core structural design of the vehicle. It’s quite a big thing. Both manufacturing, engineering and design as well,” Elon said in September 2020 while visiting the Berlin site.
Typically, when manufacturing processes and products change in large degree, it is easier to run into hiccups. One of the things that got the Model Y into production so quickly in the US is that about 77% of the components are shared with the Model 3. So, it was more like ramping production of a quarter of a vehicle than a full vehicle.
“We’re really changing the design of the [Model Y] to make it more manufacturable. The fundamental architecture of the Model Y will be different in Berlin. It may look the same but the internals will be quite different and fundamentally more architecturally efficient than what we have done to date,” Elon noted on Tesla’s 2nd quarter shareholder conference call.
In the 3rd quarter Tesla shareholder letter published last week, Tesla wrote, “Construction of the Gigafactory in Berlin continues to progress rapidly. Buildings are under construction and equipment move-in will start over the coming weeks. At the same time, the Giga Berlin team continues to grow. Production is expected to start in 2021.”
One more piece of news about Tesla’s operations in Europe is that it is expected to ship vehicles from the Rostock Baltic Sea Port in mid-2021. The port is reportedly investing €20 million into expansion there to accommodate this.
From mid 2021, thousands of cars are to be shipped from the "Rostock Baltic Sea port", including from GIGABERLIN, the port operator confirmed. Large areas will be asphalted as parking areas. The port is investing more than 20 million €.https://t.co/y68EkBRwqw pic.twitter.com/ZhCEnNpD3F
— @GF4Tesla 🇩🇪 🏗️🏗️.build #GigaBerlin. (@Gf4Tesla) October 26, 2020
Why ship vehicles from Europe? This could be for German-built vehicles headed to the UK, Norway, and other countries not physically tied to Europe.
Another Tesla Model Y update we received recently was Elon Musk tweeting two weeks ago that the 7-seat Model Y is still on schedule for deliveries at the end of 2021. Production is supposed to begin in November and deliveries in December. Of course, these will initially just be for the North American market.
Starting production on 7 seater next month, initial deliveries early December
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 14, 2020
Our estimate is that 18,861 Tesla Model Y SUVs were delivered in the first three quarters of 2020 in the United States and Canada. That has cut into Model 3 production, since factory space and production lines are currently shared between the two models in Tesla’s Fremont factory. However, Tesla has also just started shipping Model 3s produced in China to Europe. Presumably, that can free up more of California’s production capacity for Model 3 and Model Y buyers in the United States.