- Tesla has several factories in the US, with new ones coming in China and Germany.
- As Tesla expands its manufacturing footprint, I took a closer look at its facilities, as well as at some other factories around the US and the world.
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Tesla currently operates a car factory in the San Francisco Bay Area and two “Gigafactories,” near Reno, Nevada, and one in Buffalo, New York, (the latter handles solar panels, the former is manufacturing batteries in partnership with Panasonic).
Tesla intends to open a fully operational new Gigafactory in Shanghai, China, next year, with a Gigafactory near Berlin to follow.
The proposed Berlin factory could build up to 500,000 vehicles annually, making it a pretty serious operation.
Here’s a closer look at Tesla facilities, as well as some notable plants operated by other automakers:
Tesla’s main factory is located in the East Bay town of Fremont, in northern California.
Tesla bought the plant from Toyota in 2010. In the 1980s, it was operated as a joint venture between Toyota and GM and called “New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc.” or NUMMI.
Tesla still maintains NUMMI’s old test track, which features a pair of banked loops.
I took a spin on it a few years back. Tesla uses it to do a final test of new vehicles that leave the factory.
Read more about the Tesla test track.
One unique feature of the Tesla factory is this enormous stamping press.
The factory also has an army of robots.
Here’s Sheena Patterson, an Tesla employee I profiled a few years ago. She’s actually designed some of the factory’s robots.
Tesla has assembly lines inside the factory, but after an automated Model 3 line failed to work properly, the company added an outside line under a huge tent. Here’s CEO Elon Musk talking to “60 Minutes” about the improvised structure.
Tesla also has a headquarters in Silicon Valley. I profiled designer and engineer Rosie Mottsmith there.
Tesla’s design studio is located at the SpaceX rocket factory, south of Los Angeles. It’s where Musk unveiled the company’s New Roadster.
The first Tesla Gigafactory was built near Reno, Nevada.
Tesla also has a factory in Buffalo, New York. It’s where the former SolarCity business has its panel-manufacturing operations.
Tesla’s newest Gigafactory is in Shanghai, China, and should come fully online in 2020.
What about the rest of the auto industry? Well, here’s Ford’s famous River Rouge complex. It was Henry Ford’s pride and joy.
General Motors’ Lordstown Assembly plant dates to the 1960s. It was controversially idled and then sold this year.
Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is among the newest in the US, opened in 2011. It’s in what some call “Detroit South.”
But the most notable factory in the world is perhaps Ferrari’s complex in Maranello, Italy.
The complex is near Ferrari’s legendary test track, Fiorano. Enzo Ferrari’s actual house is adjacent to the track, where Ferrari tests its Formula One cars.
The facility is stunning. I’ve toured a lot of car factories. Ferrari’s is something special.
The wind tunnel was designed by architect Renzo Piano. It’s known as the “Galleria del Vento.”
Tesla could try to match Ferrari’s aesthetics with its own new factory, planned for construction near Berlin.
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