Coronavirus: Tesla’s California Factory To Restart Production

Tesla will reportedly restart production at its giant factory in Fremont, California, possibly as soon as Friday, according to an email to its workforce.

The move could potentially put Tesla on a collision course with health and state officials in California, Bloomberg reported after seeing the email.

This is because California Governor Gavin Newsom had announced that he will allow production to resume in factories in some parts of the state, starting from Friday. However it is not clear if the Tesla Fremont factory in Alameda County is included in the production easing.

Elon Musk at Tesla’s Autonomy Investor Day, April 2019. Image credit: Tesla

Coronavirus lockdown

Tesla it should be remembered had resisted shutdown orders in California as long as it could, only shutting down its main Fremont factory to the south of San Francisco on 18 March when ordered to do so.

The firm also shut down factories in New York that were making solar roof tiles.

On 7 April Tesla told employees it would furlough all non-essential workers and implemented salary cuts.

The shutdown has been intensively frustrating for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently slammed the California lockdown and called it ‘fascist’ and ‘not democratic’, and said that authorities were effectively imprisoning people in their own homes.

“To say that they cannot leave their house and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist,” said Musk. “This is not democratic, this is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom!”

In California, the stay-at-home orders runs until at least 31 May, but when Musk heard about the easing of production shutdowns in some parts of California, he tweeted an enthusiastic “Yeah!!” on Twitter.

Tesla has already said it could not predict how quickly vehicle manufacturing and global supply chains will normalise.

The Covid-19 pandemic has heavily disrupted demand for cars, with some reports suggesting that vehicle demand in the United States has dropped as much as 80 percent in some hard-hit areas in March.

Share volatility

Tesla’s shares have surged 68 percent this year, spurring Musk a week ago to remark on Twitter that the company’s “stock price is too high”.

Investors promptly drove the shares about 10 percent lower, wiping $14 billion (£11bn) off the company’s market value, although it recovered most of those losses at the start of this week.

Musk has also revealed he planned to sell “almost all” of his physical possessions and would “own no house”.

The previous weekend Musk did indeed put two of his Bel Air homes on the market for a combined $39.5m, according to property listings service Zillow.

However, Musk owns a further three houses in Bel Air, with all five overlooking the Bel-Air Country Club.

Earlier this week Tesla has applied for a licence to generate and supply electricity in the UK.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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