Tesla has resumed production in Fremont, defying the Alameda County ban. Elon Musk is continuing his dispute with local authorities.
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Contrary to instructions from the authorities who continue to impose curfews in Alameda County around Fremont due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tesla has resumed production at its main plant on the instructions of Elon Musk. Musk confirmed via Twitter that production is up and running again. He said he would be at the production line himself: “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
The Fremont plant was closed down on 23 March on official orders, and even then, Musk wanted to keep production running at a reduced level. When the county last extended the curfews until the end of May (which would have meant production would not start until June at the earliest), Musk not only harshly criticized the responsible health officer but also threatened to move the Tesla headquarters from California to Nevada or Texas. When presenting the figures for the first quarter at the end of April, Musk had already called the initial restrictions “fascist”.
Shortly before the unauthorized reopening of the factory in Fremont, California’s Governor Gavon Newsom had announced a relaxation of the measures in the coming week, which would possibly have allowed production in Fremont. No reaction of the governor or Alameda County to the restart of production at Tesla is known. However, the mayor of Fremont had previously sided with Tesla.
Tesla had presented a hygiene concept for the Fremont plant in the past few days. The plan for the restart is the result of months of careful planning, Tesla wrote in a blog entry at the weekend. The concept is to be based on the experience gained from the production start-up of Gigafactory 3 near Shanghai, where production has been running “smoothly and healthily” again for three months. Musk did not want to wait for the result of negotiations with the county about this concept. At this point though, it must be said, when Tesla was allowed to open the factory in Shanghai, the curve had been flat already for some time. Currently in Alameda County specifically, the number of cases has still been growing by 1.8% since Sunday. Musk claims Tesla has been singled out while other car manufacturers in other places can reopen.
Also, in South Korea, Tesla has been making news: The Californians have appointed Kim Kyung-ho as their new Country Manager. The 44-year-old financial expert comes from the US bank State Street, where he was Vice President in South Korea. In the first quarter, Tesla became the third-largest import brand after Mercedes-Benz and BMW – across all drive systems.
On the battery front, now – even before Tesla’s ‘Battery Day’ – further statements have been made that would confirm Tesla is planning its battery cell production, as presumed. The source is a prominent expert in all matters battery: CATL CEO Zhou Jia said that Elon Musk had told him about the plans. “From what I know, their technical roadmap will not have an impact on us,” the CATL boss is quoted telling a Chinese media outlet. “Currently, both parties are together exploring how to make batteries better,” he said.
Update 14 May 2020: A settlement between Tesla and Alameda County has apparently been agreed upon. The Alameda County Health Department is allowing Tesla to prepare for a restart at the Fremont plant this week and start production next week. The new production manager of the Fremont plant, Richard Miller, will take up his post under difficult conditions. Meanwhile, as reported by The Verge in reference to an internal mail from Tesla, the Californians have also resumed full production at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.
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