- tesla’s fremont, california, plant is located in alameda county, which has issued a quarantine order for all but "essential business."
- the company had noted that information from different levels of government had been conflicting and was reluctant to close, agreeing late wednesday, march 18, to cut worker count from 10,000 to 2500.
- late thursday, march 19, the automaker finally agreed to close the facility.
update 3/19/20: tesla is suspending the production of vehicles at the fremont factory beginning at the end of the day on monday, march 23. the announcement came after the fremont police department and city manager meet with the company about its compliance with the current shelter-in-place order issued for alameda county.
the company issued the following statement: "we have decided to temporarily suspend production at our factory in fremont, from end of day march 23, which will allow an orderly shutdown. basic operations will continue in order to support our vehicle and energy service operations and charging infrastructure, as directed by the local, state, and federal authorities. our factory in new york will temporarily suspend production as well, except for those parts and supplies necessary for service, infrastructure, and critical supply chains. operations of our other facilities will continue, including nevada and our service and supercharging network."
tesla has told employees via email that they will get paid leave after monday’s suspension of production.
the following information predates the decision to close:
after days of conflicting reports, leaked emails, and vague tweets from the alameda sheriff department, tesla has reached a compromise with the county concerning its fremont factory.
tesla will reduce its factory workforce by 75 percent, according to an alameda county sheriff's office spokesperson. the facility will run with 2500 employees instead of the usual 10,000. the spokesperson was unable to share a timeline on when this would happen and could not answer if the remaining employees would still be manufacturing automobiles.
the shelter-in-place order allowed for essential businesses to continue to operate. it also stated that a business may continue to operate with basic minimum operations.
the order states that a business can continue to operate under the following parameters: "the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions."
maintaining the business's inventory might have been the argument tesla used to continue to build cars at fremont. those vehicles at its plant are its inventory and it needs to maintain that inventory value.
an alameda county spokesperson told buzzfeed news that talks with tesla have been positive.
through all this, ceo elon musk has downplayed the coronavirus pandemic both in communications with tesla and space-x and via twitter. at the worker level, employees were told that they could call out sick if they were feeling ill or uncomfortable about going to work.
tesla has recently seemed to have hit its stride with slightly profitable quarterly earnings and production and deliveries of the model y happening ahead of schedule. this slowdown or potential stopping of vehicle production could put a damper on all that, though.
still, it’s not the first coronavirus-related incident the company has endured. its shanghai factory was shuttered during the outbreak in china. it was recently reopened with some help from the chinese government which made sure the company had adequate masks and cleaning supplies to operate.
the alameda county shelter-in-place order is expected to last until 11:59 p.m. on april 7, 2020, unless rescinded or extended based on bay area coronavirus cases.