Musk Considers Boring Tunnels At Tesla Factory To Increase Production




Tesla Factory – Fremont, California (source: California Phantom)

Elon Musk’s Boring Company started its initial digging on SpaceX property in Hawthorne, California, so it comes as no surprise that the venture might find its way to the Tesla factory in Fremont.

Though Tesla is still a lower volume automaker, its factory in Fremont is sprawling. Back in the days when it was the NUMMI factory (GM and Toyota joint venture) it was churning out more than a handful of vehicles. In order to facilitate increased productivity, Musk may turn to his Boring Company tunnels to get materials across the property more quickly and efficiently.

The Boring Company

Entrance to The Boring Company’s initial tunnel on SpaceX property in Hawthorne, CA. In order to make any notable progress in the near term, the company will have to significantly speed up the process.

Apparently, Tesla’s seat factory is three miles from the main buildings in Fremont. During the automaker’s recent Q4 earnings call, CTO J.B. Straubel commented about issues involving limitations in getting materials from point A to point B. Musk then revealed that the automaker may rely on Boring Company tunnels to prepare for high-volume production. He said (via Teslarati):

“We are looking at building tunnels, using The Boring Company’s thing, because we have, for example, our seats production is at a separate building on Page. And we have a bunch of trucks moving seats back and forth between both the primary Fremont production and the seat factory.

And we actually get constrained on how many trucks can we dock and undock at the seat factory, which is only, I don’t know, half a mile or a mile away from the vehicle plant. So it’ll be pretty easy to just have a tunnel, do an automated conveyance from seats to the factory.”

Musk has made similar mentions in the past when referring to transporting between the company’s Gigafactory and automotive plant. However, this is a substantial distance. The lengthy journey, coupled with reported battery pack bottleneck issues isn’t helping the Model 3 production situation.

When Musk spoke to the concept previously, he talked of a Hyperloop joining the two facilities. However, now with the Tesla Semi in the mix, it seems that the automaker is counting on using truck platoons instead.

The idea of a Hyperloop of sorts in Fremont is likely a bit more viable. The CEO seems to think that it could work, and he hopes that it will increase production to significant numbers. Musk continued:

“And there are things we can do, where we can build sub-systems and then transport sub-systems to Fremont. These things get increasingly difficult, but they’re all doable. But I can see a path where we get to say 600,000 Model 3 production and 100,000 S and X, so maybe 700,000, which should be like almost 50% more than GM or Toyota got out of the plant. I mean that seems achievable.”

Source: Teslarati, Electrek

Categories: Tesla

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26 Comments on "Musk Considers Boring Tunnels At Tesla Factory To Increase Production"

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Would it be cheaper to just expand the car plant, adding what you need, vs. tunneling to another plant?

No, NUMII is already out of space for any expansion

How about going vertical? Seat construction shouldn’t be too heavy to be built above where they join the line to go into the chasis.

Excellent idea!

I was thinking about moving the car plant and all operations out to the Gigafactory. Lots of room in the desert.

Tunneling for them is essentially free, because they were going to do it elsewhere to prove their system anyhow.

Another Euro point of view

Some 45 years ago I had the same problem. To make ourselves some pocket money, Together with a schoolmate we cooked like 100 biscuits to sell at school. As no one seemed interested in them we ended up eating them ourselves.

?. If you had pulled together a quarterly statement that also described all the cost savings from vertical integration because you didn’t “have” to buy a 100 biscuits from someone else, then you have a chance at making it as a Silicon Valley billionaire.

Actually, some 30 years ago, well, my dad had a small bakery and I really believed that, if we could, somehow, produce the flour too, that would make us ultra absurdly rich. Well, there you have it. Me and Another Euro have just proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the average tesla fan has the intellect of a ten year old

If he built a tunnel system to the port and to other factories in the area it would be great for the local freeway system if he took 500 trucks off the road a day by using the tunnels.

I think a factory complex with it’s own personal road tunnel system would be very valuable. It makes me wounder if this could be the start of a San Fransico tunnel system.

Why not enhance/use the rail service instead. Building a 3 mile tunnel is a very long term solution that would be costly. Also it doesn’t make a lot of sense building 700k at that factory. There’s a lot more logistics trying to get that many cars out of there.

There’s a reason factories tend to be built in the middle of nowhere.

Because as clearly stated in the article, the problem is with loading / unloading stuff at the space constricted seat facility, less than a mile from the main plant. With a tunnel and conveyor system, one could save not only cost for trucking / rail, but also needs less man power for loading / unloading.
Getting the cars out of Freemont is not that difficult. There is rail access. 700k a year is only 2 k a day. That can be done with 10 trains easily, maybe less, depending how many cars one stacks on a rail waggon.
As for plants in the desert: Space is nice, but strangly, many automotive plants are not in remote areas, but rather densly populated areas, especially the older ones. BMW headquarters is their largest plant, in Munich close to the city center! Daimler plant is in the middle of Stuttgart, and the original big three are in Detroit.

And all that multiple usernames’ troll Kent Beuchert/Arthur Burnside/Curt C Richerund has to do is imagine a world where everyone follows and believes anti-EV/Tesla/RE FUD in like him.

Check out his profile here:

Isn’t parking an absolute nightmare still? Underground parking…

Tesla should buy a huge off-site parking lot near the Fremont plant and connect that lot to the plant via a hyperloop or underground shuttle. Then they could utilize the existing parking spaces at Fremont for more production space.

Honestly, with a little bit tongue in cheek, i think i would be quite happy if they reached just the Toyota/GM levels for a start. If Toyota could do it without tunnels, sure Tesla could do, too? They did after all produce 400-500 k vehicles a year somehow, i hear?

That would go a long way in plowing thru current backlog, and we won’t have to wait yet another year for the tunnel, which inevitably would just mean further bottlenecks with production ?



The Tesla factory is less than a mile from the Hayward fault (and Silver Creek fault) which is currently highest on the list of probable locations for the next big earthquake in the Bay Area. Tunnels under your plant may not be the best idea.

Tunnels in many earth quakes have survived with very little to no damage. It’s a common misconception that modern tunnels cave in during an earth quake. Structures underground are better able to deal with sway, due to the fact, they are supported in the medium they are in, which is the surrounding earth.

If the problem is that there are not enough loading bays at the dock at the seat factory, then is digging some tunnels as another method of shipping the seats over to the auto assembly factory really the best idea? Common sense says that the space going down into a tunnel is almost certainly going to be even more restricted than a loading dock, and will create a far worse bottlneck.

I suppose this could be a belt-and-suspenders thing, with some seats shipped by truck and another thru some tunnels, but it seems to me a more straightforward, far cheaper, and proven method of dealing with the problem would be to expand the loading dock or build a second one.

I suspect what’s going on here is that Elon has a new toy, a tunnel boring machine, and he wants to put it to work… even if that means the boring machine is a solution looking for a problem.

All just my opinion, of course.

You could have a continuous conveyor belt of seats. Want more seats, press a button to advance the conveyor belt.

NUMMI built 428,633 vehicles in 2006, all of them with seats.

I think Musk is BSing himself. There is no loading dock congestion and no factory sprawl problem. A tunnel would be cool and more futuristic than anything GM/Toyota did, but it has nothing to do with Tesla’s inability to mass produce cars.

I believe Tesla will eventually solve production issues but it will take a long time. That’s fine with me because I can’t afford a Model 3 dual motor yet, and I need a heated steering wheel here in MI. For now I’ll enjoy my Volt and look forward to getting a Bolt this summer.

The ringmaster Elon is playing yet another game of distraction.

“Which cup is the ball under? Watch the cup, watch the cup…”

+1 current numbers need to be much higher before bottlenecks of this type are hit

Also agree with new toy story. Same thing as with e.g. falcon wings (unnecessary toy doing away with what’s really useful — roof racks). If innovation becomes an enemy of practicality, it is not an innovation, it is just a toy to try at a great expense of people who have only one life to live and one planet to exploit for resources. At some point one has to ask, are some of these things really in the interest of the public and proclaimed goals of widely accepted move to clean transportation etc.

I still can’t believe no one at Tesla could talk Musk out of those ridiculous doors. Not only do they add considerable weight and raise the center of gravity, but they harm long term reliability, and for what? The front doors are conventional, so the driver can’t actually park any closer to anything!