Local authorities have confirmed that Tesla stopped making electric cars in California on Monday, March 23, pursuant to a shelter-in-place order triggered by the new coronavirus pandemic. But dozens of workers had to show up at the company's auto factory to finish processing the final lots of cars this week, according to an email to some of those workers obtained by The edge and the account of one of the factory employees.
This occurs when Tesla confirmed the first two cases of COVID-19 among its office workforce on Thursday, according to another email that was seen by The edge after he was first informed by Business Insider Y Electrek. Tesla is also making its first cuts in the workforce during the pandemic, temporarily laying off some employees in Norway, a stronghold of electric vehicles.
The email sent to factory employees, sent before production shutdown, informed some of these “end of line” workers that they would have to continue reporting to the auto plant to perform quality checks, fix and load and prepare the cars for delivery. They were told that Tesla's management essentially wanted all departments working on a car after it leaves the production line to continue to report to the factory until the cars are ready for delivery. The current employee, who was granted anonymity because he feared retaliation, confirmed that many of these workers reported to the factory throughout this week.
A spokesman for the local police department said The edge that he "paid a visit and inspected Tesla [on Wednesday] and found that his current level of operation was in compliance,quot; with the shelter-in-place order. “Their vehicle assembly line was stopped and they only have a small number of employees at the factory. They have also done everything possible to implement social distancing measures, ”they said.
Factory workers were also told in the email that they would not receive the paid leave that Tesla had promised until its own departments finally closed. All workers who did not feel good or felt uncomfortable going to work were encouraged to use their accumulated paid time off or take unpaid vacation, which was the company's guideline before the closure was announced last week.
The current factory worker said the Tesla end-of-line process generally takes a few hours for a car with "moderate problems." But they also said the company ended production on Monday with a greater number of cars considered "work in progress," which therefore required more end-of-line work.
According to Sam Abuelsamid, chief analyst at Navigant Research, cars leaving the production lines of legacy automakers typically complete end-of-line checks in minutes. Tesla did not respond to questions about end-of-line workers or employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
Tesla had kept the Fremont, California factory open for the past week, even after the shelter-in-place order went into effect in the San Francisco Bay Area on March 17. The company had just started delivering Model Y, its fifth electric car, and was in the midst of a typical end-of-quarter effort to build and deliver as many cars as possible.
At the same time that CEO Elon Musk was downplaying the coronavirus threat, almost all other automakers halted production operations in the United States following an agreement between Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and the United Auto Workers union. Tesla, which is the largest automaker in the United States without a union workforce, told some of its white-collar workers to work remotely if possible last week while the factory remained open.
The company finally announced on March 19 that it would comply with the Bay Area order and close operations at the California factory where Model 3, Model S, Model X and now Model Y are assembled, and agreed to reduce the workforce there to "core operations,quot; such as payroll processing. Tesla announced earlier that day that it would also pause operations at its New York solar panel factory, but that the Gigafactory in Nevada would continue to operate, despite the governor requesting that all nonessential businesses be closed.
It is currently unclear which office the two infected Tesla employees work at. Laurie Shelby, who heads Tesla's environment, health and safety division, said in the email that the two employees "had been working from home for nearly two weeks,quot; before testing positive. for COVID-19. Shelby said employees showed no symptoms of the disease while in the office and that their "direct coworkers, who already worked from home for nearly two weeks as well, were immediately notified so they can quarantine and monitor for symptoms. " Both employees are "quarantined at home and recovering well," Shelby wrote.
Tesla briefly closed its newest factory in China earlier this year as part of a government-ordered effort to suppress the spread of the virus. But musk tweeted on Wednesday He plans to reopen the New York factory "as soon as humanly possible," as Tesla joins in an effort to help increase production of fans, which are crucial in treating the worst symptoms of COVID-19.