Tesla’s New Tilburg Factory Now Open

SEP 26 2015 BY MARK KANE 24

Tesla Tilburg Factory

Tesla Tilburg Factory

Tesla Motors launched its new, nearly 50,000-square meter Tilburg Factory in the Netherlands, announced about year ago as expansion from its previous assembly facility in Tilburg.

180 workers support an assembly line for Tesla cars for European consumers (now up to 20,000 annually).  This new capacity is basically double what was available before, a necessary addition for the upcoming arrival of the Model X.

“The single story hangar, around the size of 11 football pitches, doesn’t press steel, weld sections, or paint bodies. Indeed, the Model S cars arrive four to a container, looking pretty much fully formed from the mothership factory in Fremont, California. The interior is completely trimmed, but the rear subframe is a dummy unit, and the battery pack and drivetrain aren’t installed – they’re in a separate container, for safety reasons.

Each Tesla is placed on an automated dolly, which gentely glides around the factory like Dr Who’s robot dog K9, following a magnetic path under the floor. Each Tesla’s wheels come off, the actual subframe complete with drive motor goes in, followed by the battery pack. Separate stations then fill the car with fluids, test the AC and DC charging systems and check the suspension is aligned. After the headlamps, forward facing camera and radar system are verified and a brake and roll test completed on a rolling road, the car is released for a road test like no other.”

Editor’s Note: We should add this is a ‘final assembly‘ facility, meaning they are mostly just re-assembled after leaving Tesla’s Fremont factory in California in order to meet domestic manufacturing/regulatory standards and to avoid extra EU taxation/import tariff rules.

The ‘final assembly‘ process reportedly takes about 2-3 hours per vehicle, but saves about ~10% worth of fees added to the EVs’ pricing. Countries such as Norway and Switzerland do not have these hurdles in place, and thus those vehicles are efficiently shipped complete from the US.

There is also a test track under the roof.

Battery manufacturing plant in the future? That’s what some politicians would like to see:

“In addition to the unveiling in Tilburg, Musk also met with political leaders in northern Belgium. Politicians are lobbying for a battery manufacturing plant in their region, which Musk listed in his top five preferred European locales for expansion.

“We currently have a lot of capacity in our factory in California, but in due time we will explore the possibilities for local production in Europe,” he said according to De Morgen.”

Tesla Tilburg Factory

Tesla Tilburg Factory

Tesla Tilburg Factory

Tesla Tilburg Factory

Tesla Tilburg Factory

Tesla Tilburg Factory

Source: NL Times, carmagazine.co.uk

Categories: Tesla

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24 Comments on "Tesla’s New Tilburg Factory Now Open"

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I don’t get it. If the cars arrive more or less assembled, what is the benefit of this factory? Why not just assemble the whole thing in the California factory?

Hey David,

We probably should have put some extra back story in there (I just updated it). Basically if a certain percentage of the car is assembled in the EU, it avoids an import tariff.

Its a redundant process entirely and takes Tesla about 2-3 hours to “complete” a new Model S…one wonders about the cost/logistics for this type of assembly for the lower Model 3, but we will see I suppose. The savings are about 10%…so might be better for them to just eat it for the 3.

Some other countries in Europe proper can receive the cars completely assembled without penalty…which is why Norway/Switzerland always seem to get their cars first.

Importing cars/trucks from US to EU- 10% import tax

Importing cars from EU to the US – 2.5% import tax

Importing trucks from EU to the US – 25% import tax

That’s why the Tesla factory in the Netherlands, that’s why those BMW and MB SUVs are made in the US.

However Mexico has a free trade agreement with the US and EU as well, so perhaps Teslas should be made there 🙂

It saves a lot on import taxes or something. They’re changing it from import product to local product, well something like this.

I’m not sure, but from comments about other auto makers partially assembling their cars overseas, perhaps it’s to avoid excessive European import duties or VAT (Value Addded Tax) by partly assembling the cars in Europe.

The article also states or suggests the cars are shipped without the battery pack installed for safety reasons, but I’m not sure that makes any sense. Is it any safer to ship a large li-ion battery pack separately, rather than shipping it installed in an EV?

Of course, if it’s a government regulation, then it doesn’t have to make sense. :/

I see the question was already answered, twice, while I was typing my reply. 🙂

Sorry about that PP, we should have filled in the backstory when it was in our editorial queue…didn’t think of it until I saw David’s question.

No problem, Jay. Just one of the features* of participating in online comments.

*It’s not a bug, it’s a feature! 🙂

Here’s an idea. Before bothering to comment on an article, perhaps it would be an idea to actually *read* it, first! MW

I would assume the paint job is done when a car is ordered in a particular color rather than painted pieces shipped 🙂

I could be wrong, but it looks to me like all the pieces with optional paint colors, including doors, rear hatch, and the hood (“bonnet” to you Brits), are assembled in California before shipping overseas.

You would think this reassembly would be much, much easier with an EV powertrain than a gasmobile.

Basically just mount the motors, drop the drivetrain in and then bolt on the battery. No exhaust system. I imagine that installing an engine on its mounts and making all the connections would be a lot more involved than just bolting on the motors.

Netherlands is one of the biggest customers of Tesla cars. Hope this will start producing more for the European markets. I wish Tesla open more factories in Asia, Africa, South America as well.

Only if the name “Tesla” spreads globally, more people in USA and everywhere will start buying their vehicles.

I See Two Things: Presence, and Experience! First – Presence allows them to get known; and the longer they are there, the more time they have for building a Team with Experience, that can grow as they increase the flow rate of cars through this line. At some point they will reach a saturation – where they can’t move any faster in the given space no matter how many robots or people are added, at which time they will have to expand or and additional build locations! The Short list build (like this one) might be the main choice up until total demand exceeds Tesla’s California Plant’s 500,000 car per year capacity. If European Demand continues to grow, and California can’t meet the demand for the Three continents, and if Europe demand exceeds China, they may get the first Expanded Production Facilities that include, Stamp, Weld/Rivet/Bond, Paint, as well as General Assembly. They might even Get Motor Assembly and Battery Pack Builds at the same time, but these could still arrive into the mix at a separate step. For sure – it leads to the fact that Tesla is continuing to solidify it’s position of survival, endurance, and growth, in… Read more »

All that gets really expensive though. I think it will business as usual with space acquisitions to do in essence what Tilburg is doing. So first they will expand to utilize more capacity at Numi, which is like 30% utilized.
Once they hit 500k, 5 years hence, then I could see something else in the US first before they open any major production facilities overseas.

I think they will continue to follow the Tilburg model in other areas of the EU, as the tax advantages will be in those countries too.
China will go back burner.

ffbj said:

“Once they hit 500k, 5 years hence, then I could see something else in the US first before they open any major production facilities overseas.”

There are already predictions that Tesla will have to open a second auto assembly plant to reach 500k units per year.

Perhaps the second will be in China?

Probably, but hard to say. I think China’s star is fading for a new factory anytime soon, but its pretty long range, to make any firm prdictions.

China makes it intentionally difficult to sell imports there… especially luxury imports like the Model S and Model X. Those red-tape difficulties go away if those luxury goods are made in China.

China is a rapidly growing market for automobiles, and if it’s not already the largest market, it soon will be. It already is GM’s largest market.

Given those two factors, Tesla certainly has a strong motive to start making cars in China.

Or they could come to India. Just yesterday our Prime minister met Elon at thier Fremont plant. We have cheap labour and plentiful engineers. We are also a participatory democracy with years of growth left. Unlike China.

Yes, and I think going to the subcontinent too, perhaps after the Model III has gone into production, would be a good idea. There are many positives from going into India, as you suggest.

Inferior infrastructure though, is a big drawback, though Musk tends to lean toward those that will give the most towards major projects and India seems motivated to do so.
I’d say a 50/50 chance Tesla puts something major there within the decade.

Regarding China I think for Tesla the land of the lotus has turned out to be a thorny problem. Not much need to go into that as everyone knows all about it. But Musk has said that a factory is coming to China. I think in the site selection process there will be similarities to how the gigafactory was located, except this time the players will be countries instead of states.

Atm though Tesla is burning through cash faster than a drunken sailor on liberty, so I don’t see them doing anything big for a while.

ffbj said:

“But Musk has said that a factory is coming to China. I think in the site selection process there will be similarities to how the gigafactory was located, except this time the players will be countries instead of states.”

Possibly you meant (Chinese) Provinces instead of States?

May we learn, what are those criteria choosing a Tesla production site? (irrespective of geographical definition of province, country ot state 🙂

May we learn, what are those criteria of choosing a Tesla production site? (irrespective of geographical definition of province, country or state 🙂
I presume for instance plenty of sunny hoursfeeding the PV system.

All true. Also, however, a regrettable tendency for workers to frequently go on strike, and internal infrastructure (transport, power, etc.) that needs more than a bit of upgrading.