Production may have stopped, but that doesn't mean the factory can't be upgraded.
Like America's other major automakers, Tesla has had to temporarily suspend production at its Fremont, California plant as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to pose health and safety concerns across the US. But the EV manufacturer is using its downtime wisely, it would seem, filing permits with the city of Fremont to build additional production lines for the all-new Tesla Model Y crossover and to upgrade the factory's paint shop.
The permits, which were shared this week by Tesla news site Teslarati, have sweet, catchy names like "Installation of Model Y conveyance platform for phase #3" and "Utility infrastructure development in preparation for restoring former body paint operations".
Until now, Model Y production has taken place on the same line as the Tesla Model 3 - the company's smaller, more affordable alternative to the Model S sedan. That makes sense as the Y and the 3 share a platform - not to mention roughly three quarters of their parts content.
But every production line has a finite capacity, and the Model 3 and Model Y - Tesla's lowest-priced, most mass-market-oriented products - will need a higher ceiling if Tesla's to have any hope of sating demand. That's especially true as Model Y sales are expected to outpace sales of the Model 3 by virtue of the crossover segment's burgeoning popularity.
As for the paint shop, that's been a weak point of Tesla's Fremont factory for some time, proving inefficient enough that it caused Model 3 production to bottleneck back in 2018. And the quality left something to be desired, too; customer paint-related complaints, especially regarding the 3, have been plentiful. Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained fame went so far as to produce a video exploring the myriad paint blemishes on his Model 3 after taking delivery, and it wasn't a good look for Tesla.
Tesla filed these permit applications on April 3, but there's no telling when the company will actually be able to complete the specified upgrades - especially with so much of the US on lockdown. For their sake, we hope it's soon; the company has plenty of Model Y production to catch up on.