Tesla has finally announced suspension of production at its Fremont, california factory. This comes after the Elon Musk led company was subject to intense criticism for continuing to deny government orders, amid an alarmingly high rate of increase in COVID-19 infection in the United States.
“Despite taking all known health precautions, continued operations in certain locations has caused challenges for our employees, their families and our suppliers,” the company said in a statement.
Basic operations at the plant would however continue, “to support our vehicle and energy service operations and charging infrastructure, as directed by the local, state and federal authorities”, added Tesla. The company will also temporarily suspend production at its factory in Buffalo, New York besides that for parts and supplies it said are “necessary for service.” Tesla plans to use that facility to ramp up production of Solar roofs and related items.
This closure, which will bring in a big sigh of relief from most workers, comes after the Alameda County sheriff’s office termed Tesla, a “non-essesntial business”. It had further mentioned that the company should only keep production to bare minimum and should only call workers who are required to keep those minimum ops working.
Tesla however, defied the order and cited “conflicting guidance” from various levels of government and said it would continue production, with added health security measures. The company’s HR, in a company wide email had asked for employees from production, servicing, delivery and testing to still show up for work, despite a shelter in place order from the county sheriff office.
A prime reason for Tesla’s reluctance to close the plant comes from the expected ramp up in demand for the company’s newest Model Y car. Demand for the Model Y is expected to be higher than for all of Tesla’s other models combined, Chief Executive Elon Musk had said.
Elsewhere in China, Musk recently tweeted that the production is running in full capacity. He tweeted, “China is operating normally across hundreds of suppliers & all of Tesla Shanghai” when a user asked about production status in China. A Shanghai-based Tesla representative told Reuters the Chinese factory’s production rate has exceeded pre-coronavirus levels and over 91% of workers have returned to work since March 6.
China is operating normally across hundreds of suppliers & all of Tesla Shanghai
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 19, 2020