Tesla ups pressure on workforce to meet Model 3 production targets

by Jimi Beckwith, Autocar UK 05 Jul 2018

Tesla has upped the pressure on its workforce in order to meet its production targets, particularly so in the dying days of the second quarter, when 5000 cars a week was the company’s aim.

Reuters reports that 12-hour shifts are now being used, while a policy to warn workers a week in advance of weekend shifts - which are now mandatory - has been withdrawn. 

Quoting an anonymous source from Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, US, Reuters reports that the all-hands-on-deck approach taken to pushing the Model 3 to 5000 units per week by the end of the second quarter put the Model S production line 800 cars behind schedule at the paint stage. 

“They’ve been throwing Model 3s ahead of the Model S to get painted to try to assure that they make their goal of 5000", a production worker said. "The paint department can’t handle the volume.

“They [Model 3 production] were borrowing people from our line all day to cover their breaks so the line would continue to move.” 

Tesla reportedly disputed this claim. 

CEO Elon Musk’s supervision of the production line led to tensions rising, as he snapped at engineers if production slowed or a problem was encountered with the machines, according to a factory worker. 

Tesla’s production problems with the Model 3 have been well documented, calling into question the company’s capability of producing the number of cars for which it has taken deposits. 

Last month, Musk tweeted that the company had set up a temporary production line to help achieve Model 3 production goals. This is reported to account for around one-fifth of Model 3 production. 

Despite the negative press around the “production hell” of the Model 3, the 5000-a-week target for the end of the second quarter was met, although critics are questioning whether this is sustainable, given the increasing pressure put on the Fremont factory and its employees.