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Tesla to close Fremont plant for Model 3 upgrades

Tesla's Fremont facility. Source: Tesla

Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant will be temporarily shuttered to make preparations for the Model 3

Tesla will temporarily close its California assembly plant in February to upgrade it. The week-long shuttering is expected to get the plant, in Fremont, ready for the EV carmaker’s first mass-market car, the Model 3.

The company said it will add capacity at its paint shop and do factory maintenance. “This will allow Tesla to begin Model 3 production later this year as planned,” said Tesla.

The company has said it will start production of Model 3 in July and could assemble up to 500,000 vehicles annually starting in 2017 – a prediction that had been received with scepticism. Indeed, meeting this figure would represent a four- or five-fold increase on 2016 production. Although some shipping may begin this year, a 2018 roll-out now looks more likely.

Indeed Reuters reports that the automaker will start test-building the Model 3 as soon as February 20, citing unnamed sources.

However, the planned overhaul of the plant may be overshadowed – or indeed waylaid – by recent labour disputes. One worker has come to prominence with complaints about pay and conditions at the plant, and discussed the prospect of unionising workers. The move prompted a strong Twitter response from CEO Elon Musk, and now a personal visit to investigate the plant.

While the disagreement is unlikely to affect the fortunes of the Model 3 one way or the other, it is surely an unwelcome distraction from the task at hand for Tesla.

 

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