An Exclusive Look Inside Tesla’s Fremont Factory – Video

2 years ago by Jay Cole 87

It is a rare day when we get a look inside Tesla’s Fremont factory.

In fact, when Tesla opened its doors to KPIX 5 (out of the San Francisco Bay area) for an exclusive look, it was the first time in 5 years that any news crew had been given such open access.

KPIX 5 From The Bay Area Gets An All Access Look Inside Tesla's Assembly Facility

KPIX 5 From The Bay Area Gets An All Access Look Inside Tesla’s Assembly Facility

Generally whenever “looks” are given inside the factory, a requirement to entry is to surrender all recording devices, phones, cameras, etc.

KPIX had a tour from front-to-back of the facility, covering both the Model S and X production, and from watching the big robots (with names like “Cyclops” and “Thunderbird”) to seeing new battery packs being installed.

And of course, every vehicle we see being made, has already been sold.

“Every single car built here already has an owner. They have designed that vehicle,” said Georgeson to KPIX

CBS KPIX 5, Hat tip to sven!

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87 responses to "An Exclusive Look Inside Tesla’s Fremont Factory – Video"

  1. kdawg says:

    “Making this factory look more like a surgical ward than an auto plant.”
    ———
    I’m guessing they don’t go into too many auto plants. LOL

    I also find it funny they think this is “unique” regarding jobs, yet GM & Toyota were running that exact same plant a few years ago.

    1. ffbj says:

      The plant looks quite a bit different from when Toyota owned it.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Yup. Tesla painted all the walls and ceiling white, and I think installed a lot of skylights which weren’t there before, to give the entire factory a much more “clean room” atmosphere… not to mention increasing the light level and therefore making it easier to see everything!

        kdawg’s “LOL” remark is amusing, but not for the reason he thinks. 😉

        1. sven says:

          If I’m not mistaken, I believe kdawg lives in Michigan and works for a company that makes auto plant assembly line equipment and/or designs assembly lines. I’m under the impression that he has been inside many auto plants.

          1. Anon says:

            But not the clinical white and red ones of Tesla…

            1. kdawg says:

              Yep, I’ve been in quite a few. Tesla’s color scheme reminds me most of the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa. They had a crew that went around every 4 hours, in full body suits, sweeping the floors and even the robots.

              But all the plants look pretty much the same. Conveyors, AGVs, and lots of robots.

      2. scott franco says:

        Does anyone know if they are running the same metal stamping press that NUMI was using? My understanding was it was one of the biggest presses in the world.

        1. rik says:

          The largest stamping press in the Tesla Fremont Factory was purchased from another automaker during the Great Recession for pennies on the dollar.

          1. kdawg says:

            Tesla was buying some from a company in Grand Rapids MI, then ended up buying the company.

            http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2015/05/06/tesla-motors-acquisition-riviera-tool-grand-rapids/70916758/

    2. Foo says:

      You’re funny kdawg. You think they Telsa just moved in and started manufacturing EVs with the plant in the same state NUMI left it?

      Currently Tesla is only using a portion of the plant once used by NUMI, which Telsa completely refurbished and re-fitted for EV production. The rest (unused portion) of the plant is probably still the classic dark, gray, depressing environment you typically see in the typical American auto plants.

      1. kdawg says:

        Um, i’m talking about more than a coat of paint.

    3. sven says:

      For anyone doubting kdawg, here is a link to video of inside a Chrysler factory, either click to start a self-guided tour or click to watch a film.

      http://www.chrysler.com/en/200/factory-tour/#

  2. tftf says:

    “it was the first time in 5 years that any news crew had been given such open access.”

    Is it a strange coincidence this happens when Tesla’s stock is down so much YTD and especially over the last few days?

    At least the timing is curious, as if trying to re-assure everything is fine (especially given the Model X rumors/production issues).

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      tftf said:

      “[quote]it was the first time in 5 years that any news crew had been given such open access.[unquote]

      “Is it a strange coincidence this happens when Tesla’s stock is down so much YTD and especially over the last few days?”

      No, I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all. I was just thinking Tesla decided they need a media buzz boost to help counter falling stock prices.

      I get a bit tired of Tesla bashers endlessly talking like the primary goal of everything Tesla does is to pump up the stock price, but allowing a local TV news crew access to the auto assembly plant seems like a pretty easy way to generate some good PR without spending money.

      1. evcarnut says:

        Stock price doesn’t always show a company’s sucess…Don’t forget Musk is putting back all the profits back into Tesla so that he can grow the company ..Hence the reason they show no profit…. Probably the reason the Stock is not reflecting it….

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          You’re “preaching to the converted” on that one, evcarnut. I get sooooooo tired of investors claiming Tesla “isn’t profitable”, when by any common-sense definition, Tesla is more profitable (percentage wise) than any larger auto maker.

          What they really mean is “Tesla won’t pay me dividends on an investment” because the company is re-investing all those profits into growth. Yet investors insist on mis-characterizing this as “not profitable”, despite the fact that Tesla is a very successful, rapidly growing company.

          I’m glad I’m not an investor, so I don’t suffer from that tunnel vision.

          1. Three Electrics says:

            By generally accepted accounting practices, they are not profitable. That is a fact. However their gross margin, while poorer than other very high end luxury cars, is better than the average gross margin of very large automakers, as you’d expect given the luxury market they exclusively sell into.

            1. Robb Stark says:

              There is no comparable independent company to Tesla.

              Porsche has 50% margins but they leverage VW Group R&D.

              Tesla’s margins are higher than Mercedes and BMW but lower than Aston Martin or Koenigsegg.

              Tesla has no intention of being GAAP profitable any time soon. Reinvesting all free cash flow. They do intend to be free cash flow positive within the next two quarters.

            2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              Three Electrics said:

              “By generally accepted accounting practices, they are not profitable. That is a fact.”

              I’m not going to dive into the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) vs. non-GAAP accounting method argument, but what you’re characterizing is not a “fact”; it’s merely an investor’s rather narrow viewpoint.

              Here’s an actual, objective fact not based on a narrow or biased viewpoint: If Tesla was actually taking and distributing the profits it makes — those profits you claim they’re not making — rather than re-investing them in growing the company, then financial types wouldn’t have any excuse to mis-characterize Tesla as “not profitable”.

          2. lou 1000 says:

            Beautifully said—many kudos

        2. super390 says:

          We must recall that Japanese car companies have always operated on razor-thin margins in their home market because there were so many of them fighting for market share. Then when they hit the US, those thin margins made them competitive against Detroit and actually wiped out most of their European competition in cheap cars.

          They were building the market for Japanese cars here, at the sacrifice of profits. Japanese stocks are notorious for their stingy dividends. None of this stopped them from revolutionizing our ideas of what cars should be like.

      2. Ambulator says:

        I’m disappointed in Tesla’s inability to earn money and I worry about their future. Still, a new financial report is due out soon: Maybe they’ll do better this time.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          It’s not inability; it’s a choice. If Tesla chose to stop growing, or chose to grow significantly slower than the current 45-50% per year growth rate, then they would have a positive net cash flow, and nobody would have an excuse to mis-characterize the company as “not profitable”.

          Amazon.com was another of those companies which investors mis-characterized as “not profitable”, even while the company was growing to be the world’s biggest retail company.

          Duh!

          1. Ambulator says:

            I was trying to avoid this. The net cash flow is not the same as profit. Learn some accounting.

            1. ModernMarvelFan says:

              “Learn some accounting.”

              I agree. Add some engineering to it would be nice as well.

    2. Someone out there says:

      “Is it a strange coincidence this happens when Tesla’s stock is down so much YTD and especially over the last few days?”

      Yes, probably. Not even a strange coincidence, just a coincidence. Stock prices go up and down all the time, especially the stock of an aggressively expanding startup.

  3. Mark B. Spiegel says:

    “Every single car built here already has an owner. They have designed that vehicle,” said Georgeson to KPIX”

    I guess he doesn’t read his own company’s filings, which for a year now clearly state that they’ve been building cars for inventory. When the investor lawsuits start flying here, things will get VERY entertaining.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Please tell me where I can buy one of these so-called “inventory” cars. 😉

      What Tesla terms “inventory” is only showroom floor demo units, and loaners for their service center; cars sold after a few months or so at a slight discount, but still sold as new cars.

      And you already knew that, didn’t you Mark? But the Truth doesn’t stop you, it never stops you and other short-sellers, from spouting an endless stream of untruthful anti-Tesla FUD.

      1. Mark B. Spiegel says:

        Seeing as you– like any other Tesla shareholder– have clearly never read the 10-K, I’ll help you with a direct quote from page 75:

        “Finished goods inventory includes vehicles made to fulfill customer orders which have not been delivered and a smaller portion of vehicles available for immediate sale at our retail and service center locations. In addition, we also maintain vehicles used for marketing purposes and service loaners until they are sold to customers.”

        1. jelloslug says:

          You can easily see all the “inventory” cars that are for sale at the EV-CPO site. Right now there are a grand total of 22 “inventory” cars in the US.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Mark B. Spiegel said:

          “Seeing as you– like any other Tesla shareholder…”

          I don’t own any TSLA, and in fact have not owned any stocks for many years. But thanks for underscoring the fact that investors have such tunnel vision that they often cannot believe that anyone would be interested in a company without having a financial motive.

          When I say “Go Tesla!“, it’s not because I want to make money on an investment; it’s because I want the EV revolution to triumph as soon as possible. Call it an emotional investment rather than a financial one.

        3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Mark B. Spiegel cited:

          “…I’ll help you with a direct quote from page 75:

          “[quote]Finished goods inventory includes vehicles made to fulfill customer orders which have not been delivered…[unquote]”

          I thank you for that clarification, but that directly contradicts your FUD claim above, in which you said, and I quote: “…clearly state that they’ve been building cars for inventory”.

          Clearly? “Clearly” your statement was an outright lie, so quit trying to weasel out of it.

          1. Mister G says:

            LOL Spiegel failed reading comprehension in elementary school.

        4. Nix says:

          Mark Spiegel — You have misread the 10K to mean that Tesla is building cars ahead of buyers being allocated to unit. That is false.

          What Tesla describes as “Inventory” cars are not the same as when Ford or GM or BMW or any other car maker builds cars to spec without buyers.

          When Tesla builds an “Inventory” car, they build it with a known customer in mind. They are built specifically to be used as demo cars, service loaner cars, etc. They actually have to allocate for these cars before they even start down the assembly line.

          If you are confused by the difference between a car specifically built to be a demo or service loaner, and a car built to sit on a back lot somewhere before it is even sold to a dealership, I can certainly explain it to you further if you still don’t understand.

          1. Three Electrics says:

            The language in the document couldn’t be clearer. If Tesla doesn’t yet build inventory cars, they certainly wish to leave that option open. However, this is all semantics–Tesla has so little room for inventory that any cars you see at a Tesla store or service center are almost certainly put to use as demo and service cars while waiting for a sale. In fact, a coworker had to return his service loaner early because it was sold out from under him. Call them what you will.

            1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              Three Electrics said:

              “The language in the document couldn’t be clearer. If Tesla doesn’t yet build inventory cars, they certainly wish to leave that option open.”

              Tesla sells cars directly to buyers, rather than selling them to dealerships. It’s a different business model, so they mean something different when they say “inventory”. Anti-Tesla FUDsters like Mark B. Spiegel use that confusion in terminology to try to convince the unwary that Tesla is making more cars than it can sell.

              However, Three Electrics, for once I half-agree with you. I think Tesla did word that to leave open the possibility that someday they might build more cars than they have buyers for. But only a dishonest Tesla basher (Hi, Mark!) would try to twist that into a claim that Tesla is currently doing so.

      2. evcarnut says:

        Loaners, Salesmen driven, & showroom cars are Sold as “Demos” or Demonstrator Cars… Cheers

    2. x says:

      VERY entertaining…

      I view people that talk like this (with all their history) as “sharks” who would profit from say betting that some pioneers trying to do a good thing (less pollution , less wars over oil, etc, etc) die somewhere. People die and some sharks grin “nice, I will make a big profit now as I waged against those guys making it!”

      to me these people are truly more disgusting than scatophags ( people who literally like to eat feces)

      1. super390 says:

        Capitalism is actually 99% Mark D. Spiegels and only 1% John Galts. Declining empires always replace useful production with financial speculation. Only in new industries are people willing to sacrifice profits for growth and market-building, but once the piles of gold have finally been built, the heirs and the speculators go to work turning them into mountains of paper because it’s the path of least resistance.

    3. ffbj says:

      Close out your shorts and be happy.

      1. x says:

        I don’t have any shares, and don’t plan to buy any.
        the on-display egotistical hubris is just disgusting

        1. ffbj says:

          That comment was not for you.

    4. Three Electrics says:

      The investor lawsuits are coming, but that happens anytime a stock tanks. The net result will simply be that Tesla’s SEC-minding attorneys will attempt to reign in Elon’s grandiose and inaccurate statements, making them somewhat rarer.

      Using idle plant capacity to build some cars for inventory is a solid practice. Tesla has few stores, and can’t push them into dealers, so in realty they won’t produce very many.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        In reality, despite your FUD, Tesla does not produce any of what other auto makers call “inventory”, period. If you disagree, then I repeat my challenge: Tell me where I can buy some of those so-called “inventory” cars.

        The only “inventory” cars Tesla has for sale are the few demo/loaner cars that Tesla currently wants to replace with a newer unit.

        The idea that Tesla makes hidden “inventory” cars is an anti-Tesla conspiracy theory often spewed out on Seeking Alpha; frequently repeated despite being repeatedly debunked. After repeated challenges, the best any anti-Tesla troll has ever been able to come up with is an instance where a Tesla showroom might have one or two demo/loaners on hand that it wants to sell. At least, that’s the best any of them did in the months I was reading the Tesla-related posts on Seeking Alpha (and I feel so much cleaner now that I’ve stopped).

        1. Three Electrics says:

          I think you are confused. I’m actually suggesting that Tesla should make inventory cars, just like they claim to in their SEC filings. It’s a good idea in limited quantities.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Hmmm, well if you actually have managed to convince yourself that Tesla “claim to” to make cars on spec, rather than to order, then you are the one who is confused, dude.

            There are a lot of things in SEC filings, especially the “boilerplate” disclaimers, which are carefully worded to allow for all kinds of possibilities which the company hopes never occurs. Three Electrics, if you think that everything in an SEC filing indicates something the company is actually doing, then you need to be educated on the subject.

  4. Ob1 says:

    basically a free commercial good for Tesla.

  5. James says:

    So weird how a little piece like this showing some Model S and Xs being built brings out posts of Tesla hate.

    Things that make you say,”Hmmmmm…” dept.

    1. ffbj says:

      Its not weird in the least these days. Tesla bashing is incessant and unrelenting, is the new normal. Any positive story is immediately called out as prejudicial from the staff, anyone that has a differing view is merely a fan-boi.

    2. David Murray says:

      It’s really no different with any other product. Find a story on Apple devices that isn’t full of hateful comments about Apple. You can’t.

    3. PVH says:

      Just to explain a bit. I was a real Tesla enthusiast from beginning (around 2011) until around end of 2014 . 3 things made me completely change my mind. 1/ It started with EM claims like “by 2020 we will produce 500K cars per year”.
      I thought “what’s wrong with that guy ?!?” Maybe that will come true then he will be able to shout it around but meanwhile the hell making so bold claims ?” It just sounded plain stupid. Then there were his snarky comments about Toyota etc..that was again unmecessary, immature & bad for business. 2/ At that time (2014-early 2015) anyone expressing mildest doubt about Tesla was often very rudely answered to. That was/is not normal. It meant that we had a cult situation. Cults are fragile as not based on reality. 3/ I started reading some very well structured articles on Seeking Alpha written by shorts, most of the time the only argument “longs” found to refute those shorts article were “the market thinks you are wrong”. That were obviously not very knowledgeable people replies, obviously shorts were using their brain while longs were having a dream.

      1. JustWilliamPDX says:

        You are clearly a gifted writer, and thinker of deep thoughts. Thank you for sharing your gifts.

      2. Someone out there says:

        Musk was talking about what they were planning to do, not any facts. What their goals are with the company. Whether or not it will come true is for anyone to see, it’s certainly an ambitious goal.

    4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Unfortunately, almost any positive article about Tesla on the Internet attracts the attention of those who invest money in short-selling Tesla’s stock (TSLA). For example, in this very comment thread we see posts by Mark B. Spiegel, a short-selling promoter who makes money from click-bait blog posts on Seeking Alpha; and also one or more comments here by “Three Electrics”, another frequent Tesla basher; no doubt Counter-Strike Cat will also be along shortly to make a Tesla-bashing comment.

      TSLA is a very volatile stock, so these short-selling investors think it’s worth their time to post FUD in public Internet forums, in an attempt to drive down the stock price.

  6. James says:

    Also funny that some Bernie Sanders supporters also bought a Tesla, yet aren’t we supposed to hate people that can afford one?

    Impatience seems rampant also. So a gargantuan, 100 year-old car company can produce a 200-mile, $35,000 EV before tiny Tesla…So now we wait for Tesla’s ultimate demise….

    Gas prices are daily spoken of as if these prices are permanent.

    Is it just me, or are people stupid?

    1. ffbj says:

      Its not just you.

      1. evcarnut says:

        Gas cars will be dinosaurs .THE 0IL C0’s & TRADITIONAL AUTO MAKERS ARE MILKING GAS CAR CASH COW, FOR BIG PROFITS FOR AS LONG AS THEY CAN.HOWEVER..Some people wouldn’t buy a Gas Car If Gas Were Free!

        1. ffbj says:

          That is metaphysically absurd, how can buy something that if free?

          1. Hey ffbj – unless you were joking – take another look at that sentence – in it’s operational entirety: “Some people wouldn’t buy a Gas Car If Gas Were Free!” – He Didn’t say – if the CAR was FREE – he said – If the GAS was FREE! Got it?

            Now – about that Video – still pretty far from close in shots – just some wide shots, dozens of feet from the robots, so more of a feel good piece than a technical – how did they do that type piece. Wondering when we will start to see pieces like this on the inside of the Gigafactory 1 Pilot Plant in operation?!

        2. David Murray says:

          I’m one of those.. If gas were free, I’d still buy an EV.

    2. RexxSee says:

      I use Chrome and there is this little extension called “GreenHouse.
      It just Highlight in green any name of American politician, and if you hover it with your mouse, you get an instant filecard of their funding.
      VERY interesting to see how often “Oil&Gas” comes in first place with Republicans.

      http://allaregreen.us/

      1. super390 says:

        You’re right, and I really really hate those guys, but the connection between oil and ideology is deeper than simple bribery. Texas was once much further to the left – but only on economic issues, because it was full of poor farmers, even the White ones who could vote. Their hero, Sam Maverick (where our current use of the word “maverick” comes from), said: “I support private property; that’s why I want everyone to have some.”

        Big Oil changed everything. At first it seemed to be bringing progress; LBJ and the business elites in Dallas & Houston knew Jim Crow was scaring off needed investors, so they took care of it way ahead of the Deep South. But over time you could see the old populism of the Depression survivors die out, replaced by a new generation of egocentric suburban sprawl Galts. Easy wealth even merged Christian fundamentalism with libertarianism. Texas became the Vatican of every form of right-wing extremism, and oil money played a hand. Look up Eisenhower’s letter to his brother Milton where he derided those who wanted to destroy the New Deal as being just some kooky Texas oil millionaires. They got the last laugh on him. They also brought in Republican carpetbaggers like George H. W. Bush, who did his token stint as an “oilman” to establish his transfer from the old eastern oligarchy to the new Texas one. When high oil prices transferred vast wealth to TX from the rest of the states, people migrated to TX for jobs, but they blamed Blacks and feminists and unions for what had happened, and well funded far-right churches and councils were waiting to pander to them with a self-worshiping culture.

        It’s fair to say that oil didn’t just buy politicians, it concocted a new America where only people who thought its way could get votes.

    3. sven says:

      What’s really scary is that stupid people are breeding.

    4. Nathanael says:

      Not really. Something like 50% of the wealth in the US is controlled by less than *50 families*. Most of those inherited their money from founders who basically stole the money.

      There are a lot of us who can afford Tesla who are mere millionaires, not ultra-elite private-plane multibillionaires. And it would really help if the billionaires were actually paying reasonable amounts of taxes. Bernie would like them to start paying taxes at the same rate as working people.

  7. Eric says:

    This reporter is so clued in, it’s eerie. Gas prices are low, so people are staying away from $100,000+ Teslas in droves and buying equally expensive gasmobiles instead. Yeah, that must be true.

    1. evcarnut says:

      AS SOON AS & SHOULD BIG 0IL GET A GRIP AGAIN TO GAIN SOME MOMENTUM , THEY WILL BE PUTTING THE SCREWS TO THE PUBLIC HARDER THAN IMAGINABLE & IN FULL FORCE, TO MAKE UP FOR LOSS TIME & THE “EASY MONEY” THEY ARE NOW FORGOING… & AS ALWAYS .,I AM SO VERY CERTAIN THAT THEY WILL BE “MERCYLESS”…AS USUALL ….GOD FORBID!

      1. ffbj says:

        Not going to happen anytime soon. Besides evs are just a superior form of transportation even with low gas prices.

  8. RexxSee says:

    donald trump

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Please, not while I’m eating.

    2. ffbj says:

      Ruined my bridge game.

  9. RexxSee says:

    Donald Trump testing…

    1. Nix says:

      What are you testing? How much of a blatant troll you can be before getting banned by the mods?

      1. sven says:

        Our patience.

      2. ffbj says:

        They give you lots of rope…all the better to hang yourself with.

  10. > And of course, every vehicle we see being made, has already been sold.

    So all the Model X, that will be added to the show rooms and for test drives, are “borrowed” from customers?

    1. [Counter-Strike Cat
      February 8, 2016 at 6:39 pm
      > And of course, every vehicle we see being made, has already been sold.

      So all the Model X, that will be added to the show rooms and for test drives, are “borrowed” from customers?]

      Have you ever considered that – while Tesla Owns the Stores – that they might each have an operating budget, and from that budget – they ‘Buy’ (Order) Cars for the Store – as show room cars, for static, and for Test Drive operations? Also – it would well be that the same is true at the Service Centres – as they need a few for Service Loaners.

      Just like different expenses (, Meals, Travel, Hotels, Staff, etc.) are listed as different line items in your Business accounting, you can be sure Tesla Motors has a few more line items to identify separate operations, just as Tesla Energy – is a ‘Wholly owned subsidiary’ of Tesla.

  11. Nix says:

    I guess they aren’t counting Discovery Channel’s “How It’s Made: Dream Car” as a “news crew”. Because in 2014 they made an entire show (22 minutes without ads) inside the Fremont factory showing them build the Model S.

    Highly recommended.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4221224/?ref_=ttep_ep10

    1. ffbj says:

      I knew that exclusivity line was wrong, cause I had seen that. I think they could have said recently, but the subgenius must have slack, so I will cut them some.

      1. Nix says:

        Well, that part comes from the news station itself, so I really don’t hold it against anybody.

        http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/02/07/tesla-allows-cameras-in-fremont-factory-for-rare-tour/

        I was serious when I said they probably don’t consider that TV show a “news crew”, because they probably are focused on what their direct news station competitors are doing. *shrug*

  12. kubel says:

    Paint Dearborn Assembly white and stock it with a bunch of Teslas and you could have fooled me. Every auto plant has a ton of robots. And yes, they even multitask.

    1. super390 says:

      The only dreary, inefficient, obsolete technology we need to remove is dealers.

  13. kdawg says:

    Let’s get a video of the Gigafactory now (and not from 200ft in the air).

  14. Benjamin says:

    Who still uses Flash video?!

  15. Someone out there says:

    What do they mean, “that’s never happened before”? There are several videos that shows the inside of the Tesla factory.