Inside Tesla’s Fremont Electric-Car Plant: How Model S, Model X Are Built (Video)

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Source: Tesla

 

While the lithium-ion battery “Gigafactory” under construction in Nevada continues to get most of the attention, Tesla’s existing assembly plant in Fremont, California, continues to steadily churn out electric cars. The company has built the Model S sedan in Fremont since 2012, and is now building the Model X crossover there as well. And as it continues to build more cars, Tesla seems to be more relaxed about letting video crews into its factory.

It recently showed off the Fremont factory’s inner workings to a San Francisco Bay Area CBS television crew. Even with restricted media access, the factory’s white interior paint and epoxy floors–a personal preference of CEO Elon Musk, apparently–should be familiar to anyone that follows Tesla. About the only things that aren’t painted white are the red robots, some of which have comic-book names like “Cyclops.”

It’s likely a somewhat different look than the Fremont plant had under its original owners. The 5.3 million square-foot building started out as New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), a collaboration between General Motors and Toyota. At peak production, it was able to build 500,000 cars a year–mostly compacts like the Pontiac Vibe and Geo Prizm.Tesla builds a much smaller number of cars there now, but it hopes to realize similar volumes eventually. The company has said it hopes to build 500,000 electric cars per year by 2020. So if nothing else, it already has a factory that’s up to the job.

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Source: Tesla

Tesla acquired the former NUMMI plant in 2010, after both GM and Toyota had ceased building cars there. GM pulled out in 2009. At the time, it was on the verge of bankruptcy and preparing to shutter Pontiac. The brand’s Vibe was the only GM product still being made in Fremont. Shortly after GM announced an end to the partnership, Toyota announced that it too would cease building cars in Fremont.

Tesla subsequently moved in, after briefly considering building a new factory from the ground up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The company is now focusing on ramping up production of the Model X, and preparing to start production of higher-volume Model 3. The Model 3 is Tesla’s much-discussed $35,000 sedan, which will have a range of 200 miles. Tesla will begin taking orders next month, and production is expected to start next year.

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