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Tesla Employees Admit What Some Owners Long Suspected

Report / 16 Comments

The pressure to reach production goals was too high?

The good news is that the Tesla Model 3 has arrived and it won't take months to receive an order. Tesla finally achieved its Model 3 production goals, satisfying thousands of customers in the process. Well, almost all of them. Some have complained about build quality issues, such as exterior paint and even blurry backup cameras. A new report from CNBC might shed some light as to what's going on behind the scenes at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California.

Remember the tent? Tesla calls it GA4, or the General Assembly 4. It was built in spring 2018 as a temporary measure to help boost Model 3 production figures. Consisting mostly of manual labor, aka human beings, it was only intended to be in use until Tesla perfected its automated indoor factory lines. The tent is still in use today. According to some Tesla employees, the tent can now produce up to 120 cars per shift. With three shifts per day during a six-day workweek, that's 2,160 models weekly. Tesla did confirm GA4 is responsible for about 20 percent of total Model 3 production.

And it's because of this fast-paced production schedule some employees claim mistakes can happen. A few employees even claim they're being overworked, leading to injuries. But it's how the vehicles are often put together that's concerning. Even electrical tape is used. Seriously.

The report says "workers were encouraged to take shortcuts to hit their production goals in the tent, according to five people who work or worked there recently. For example, when it's cold in the tent, workers tend to break a high number of plastic brackets and housings that hold critical electronics in place inside of the Model 3, according to four of these people. Rather than waiting for replenishment teams to deliver boxes of new plastic parts to their stations in GA4, they said, supervisors told workers to use vinyl electrical tape to make quick fixes."

Also troubling is this claim: "Five people who work or worked in the tent in 2019 said they would frequently pass cars down the line that they knew were missing a few bolts, nuts or lugs, all in the name of saving time."

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Current and former employees even acknowledged Tesla reduced "water testing," the process by which a vehicle is blasted with water from different directions to catch any possible leaks. Not surprisingly, Tesla denies all of these claims, telling CNBC "the anecdotes employees share about work in the tent are misleading and do not reflect our manufacturing practices or what it's like to work at Tesla."

In general, these alleged short cuts sound precisely what an automaker might do in order to meet high production targets. We'll know whether this is all true or not if Model 3 owners drop by an already overcrowded Tesla service center.