Tesla Employees Share Some Insider Details

White Tesla Model X, Red Model S - Tesla showroom

APR 21 2018 BY EVANNEX 8


Whether it’s reinventing windshield glass or engineering superhero robots, Tesla factory workers do things differently. Business Insider sat down with staff at Tesla’s factory in Fremont to learn more about what’s really happening inside the game-changing company.

In 2008, Tesla took over GM and Toyota’s jointly-owned factory, New United Motor Manufacturing (formerly known as NUMMI). Andre Rivera, Tesla’s production training manager, originally got his start there and recalls, “Back in NUMMI days, it was a cool culture… but a lot of people hit the ceiling. There’s no ceiling here. This group of people is very passionate about these cars because they’re changing the environment and they’re changing that way people think about transportation.”

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.


Tesla staff heading into work at the factory (Image: Nikkei Asian Review)


A seasoned 20-year veteran of the auto industry, Rivera acknowledges, “Model 3 is a high priority for us now.” He adds, “The way that we think about the car is totally different from how people have always thought about cars. It wasn’t anything that was crazy, it was just common sense. Why doesn’t everybody think like this?”

Above: A quick tour inside the Tesla factory in Fremont (Youtube: Roadshow)

For instance, Rivera “points to Tesla’s lack of model years in favor of over-the-air software updates that can improve a vehicle overnight. Rivera, who worked with the traditional industry’s five-to-seven-year cycles for introducing new versions of cars, says Tesla is satisfying a deeply felt customer need. Why should they have to wait so long for something new?” And it’s not just software. Motor Trend once reported that “Tesla implements about 20 modifications to the car per week. Not software, mind you, but actual hard parts.”

Tesla’s quality inspector, Jeff Hickethier, also points out differences at Tesla. Hickethier is responsible for test-driving Teslas at the factory’s test track right as the cars roll off the assembly line. He explains that when “most companies do sample testing, they take one out of every couple thousand cars.” But, Tesla tests at a far higher rate. “There are so many quality checks it’s ridiculous,” he adds. “We’re taught to focus on every little thing.”


New Teslas are put through the paces at the factory test track with some serious stress testing (Source: InsideEVs)

How does Hickethier test the alignment, brakes, handling, and award-winning performance characteristics of Tesla’s all-electric cars? It’s reported that “He runs each vehicle through a gantlet of challenges, ranging from strips of bumps and rusty chunks of metal to locate loose components or suspension flaws… to speed runs around the track to double-check that a Tesla can live up to its reputation for velocity.” Asked whether he has the coolest job at Tesla, he offers a matter-of-fact verdict. “Probably,” he says, with a grin and a shrug. “Yeah, probably.”


Source: Business Insider

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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8 Comments on "Tesla Employees Share Some Insider Details"

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Tesla updates are like Volvo bragging about giving consumers the chance to rent (excuse me, “subscribe”) instead of own. You can’t count on what you were delivered, anymore. Latest update dropped volume levels. It goes on.

All those different parts will be a logistical nightmare when they start needing new parts down the road. Especially if they’re not compatible with other versions of the Model S.

It is called a superseded part number. They simply stop making the old part because the new part replaces the old part in every way. It happens all the time in the automotive industry. They don’t have to keep an inventory of all the different parts. Just the latest version.

That’s true is some cases but what about Tesla’s with V1 autopilot? It’s not compatible with v2, so there will be different parts be warehoused.

Also the article talks about the benefits of OTA updates and the lack of model years. But many of the OTA updates have added features just to make the car feature complete. The Model S has had minor face lifts – much less than a traditional maker would do in the same time. Traditional makers add and delete content yearly.

“It’s reported that “He runs each vehicle through a gantlet of challenges, ranging from strips of bumps and rusty chunks of metal to locate loose components or suspension flaws”

At 2,000 cars/week, there is no possible way one human runs EACH vehicle through this test plan. If he’s doing even a semi-thorough job, he could possibly do 6 an hour. Maybe 50 a day, or 250 per week. About 12% of cars produced… and that percentage is dropping as line speed comes up. Better than other automakers? Yes, I guess. The thing is, other automakers build several test mules and usually put a million miles on them collectively before the beginning of official production. If you do that, then you don’t need to quality check so often at build time. It also speaks to long term reliability, because you know not only what will shake loose at 3 miles, but also at 30,000 miles.

1. You’ve taking that section out of context. It’s not saying this one guy tests every car. Earlier in the article is this: He explains that when “most companies do sample testing, they take one out of every couple thousand cars.” But, Tesla tests at a far higher rate. So in context, what you quoted is talking about what he does with each car he does test. There is no claim here that every car Tesla makes is given this thorough testing. 2. Tesla did produce something like 200 pre-production Model 3’s, which were tested in various places including a closed course testing facility in Ohio (citation below). At least a few were tested in New Zealand, perhaps chosen for winter testing while it was still summer here in the Northern Hemisphere. https://insideevs.com/hundreds-tesla-model-3-ohio-crash-durability-testing/ * * * * * One thing large legacy auto makers do, and Tesla doesn’t, is to run a few hundred units off the assembly line, then loan (not sell or lease) those cars to employees to drive for few months. Regular production is started only after that few months of testing is complete, and changes have been made in response. The fact that Tesla skips this… Read more »

Have you evet visited a manufacturing facility?
Not only doe he never say he tests every car produced but ther’s most likely a “team” that does this. What moron idiot would think only that person tested all the items off the prod line?

Fremont is awesome, go by whenever you have the chance.