Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tesla Factory Opens In Silicon Valley

I've been debating on whether to post about this for some time since the plant is located in Fremont, but I have to give Tesla some credit since they made an honest attempt to move to North San Jose first (they were blocked by government regulations on use of their loan funds). Very likely, you have already heard the news that Tesla has moved into the gargantuan NUMMI plant just a few miles away from SJ. The question I have, is how will this impact our city?

I have a few thoughts on this. San Jose has really made a name for itself for incubating and promoting green tech companies. In fact, we have the largest green tech cluster in the US and potentially the world. You can find everything from alternative energy companies to technologies making existing products more energy efficient... all right in our back yard. While green tech may not be as exciting as the .com extravaganza that made us famous in the late nineties, having Tesla nearby complements not only our existing green tech companies, but will help the region hit a critical mass for green tech much the same way we did for semiconductors and internet technologies.

Right before the turn of the millennium, I remember casually meeting the CEO of a tech company at SJC. It turns out he was planning to relocate his entire company to San Jose, and when I asked him why he told me "We want to be closer to ground zero. In our industry, this is where all the action is." We need to build that exact same kind of mentality for green tech. Green companies should be telling themselves that they have to be located in San Jose because that is where all the energy behind the green tech movement is emanating from. Having a company next door who is the leading pioneer of electronic vehicle technologies is going to help a lot in building that perception. So Tesla, welcome to the neighborhood! You can borrow the lawnmower anytime.

Tesla Factory

Tesla took possession of the Nummi automotive plant in Fremont, California earlier this month and opened the doors to employee tours on Wednesday. In the months since Tesla announced the purchase, negotiations with Nummi have enabled the repurposing of a complete paint shop, four mechanical press lines, a blanking line (used to cut sheets of aluminum before stamping), and a crane for use in the Model S production process. The purchased machinery will simply be retooled and tested before use. The Hydraulic Press Line has started to arrive; 50 trucks are en route to transport the entire line to Fremont. 

Tesla is focused on hiring the most talented people, retooling the facility, and creating the most energy-efficient and innovative automotive production process in the industry. 

For an explanation of the manufacturing process, please read Manufacturing VP Gilbert Passin's recent blog post. 

Fremont Factory Layout

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