Grünheide – Elon Musk, who flies in crises himself, did not make a detour to the Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg. The eccentric and impatient Tesla boss saw no need for personal intervention, although he was in Europe at the weekend anyway for a private audience with the Pope. Musk, who recently called the plants in Grünheide and Texas “money incinerators” because of billions in losses, flew directly back from Venice in his private jet on Sunday, business as usual.
Elon Musk: It takes nine to twelve months to ramp up the factory
It is not a contradiction that the Gigafactory, which he only opened in March in the presence of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), is now taking a break after a few months, stopping production for two weeks in July – for “industry-standard factory holidays”, as it is called. Most of the 5,000 employees, 1,500 more since March, will be on summer vacation starting next Monday. It has thus become the largest industrial employer in the capital region in a very short time.
The time is also needed to significantly accelerate the start-up of the factory and to better adjust the technology. According to information from the “Teslamag” portal, around 30 seconds should then be necessary at each station of the assembly line, previously it was three minutes. However, such a six-fold increase in tempo is not plausible at this stage in such a short time. It would be a quantum leap. In the last quarterly report for 2022 (“Earnings Call”), Musk explained in April that it would take “nine to twelve months” after the start of production before high-quality vehicles could be produced in large numbers. He hopes it can be done faster, Musk said. “But to reach 5000 units per week, we usually needed about twelve months from the start of production.” That would be in Grünheide in March 2023. The plant is currently producing 1000 Model Y per week. For the targeted annual capacity of 500,000 vehicles, even 9,000 cars would have to be manufactured per week.
Water board WSE against current pile foundations in the factory
Although staff is being cut across the group, Tesla is pushing for new hires in Grünheide, which is not easy given the lack of skilled workers. In order to increase the number of pieces, the three-shift operation should start in 2022 and the second “gigapress”, which has already been delivered, should go into operation. For this purpose, the press shop will be supplemented by a deferred extension, for which 1300 foundation piles will be rammed into the ground. Ramming is done with the permission of the Oder-Spree district authority, although the main permit provides for a quieter drilling process. The Strausberg-Erkner water association (WSE) has filed a lawsuit against the ramming in the drinking water protection area, which the Frankfurt (Oder) administrative court dismissed last week. “We review the verdict and then decide whether to go to the next instance,” WSE spokeswoman Sandra Ponesky told the newspaper on Monday. There is an EU-wide ban on the deterioration of drinking water protection areas.
Delayed deliveries due to defects in drive production
In addition, technical difficulties and global supply chain problems do not steer clear of Grünheide. According to reports from those affected, delivery dates for Model Y from Grünheide had been canceled several times due to defects in the drive unit. They say that has been fixed. And last week, the Federal Motor Vehicle Office published a “recall” for Tesla models 3 and Y – affecting 59,121 vehicles worldwide – on its website due to impending software failures in the electronic emergency call system. However, Tesla owners do not have to go to the workshop for this “recall”: The necessary software update is installed online on the vehicles worldwide, as is standard for the US electric car manufacturer.
Steinbach: The start-up phase of a factory is a special time
At Tesla, everything is always raised in the media, he “could not see any crisis at the plant in Grünheide,” said Frank Bommert, chairman of the economic committee in the state parliament and CDU vice leader. “Factory holidays are also completely normal at Audi and Volkswagen.” In Wolfsburg, these begin at the end of July when the Grünheide workforce returns from vacation. “Certainly, the ramp-up phase of a factory is a special time that also requires readjustments in one place or another,” said Brandenburg’s Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach (SPD) to the Tagesspiegel on the current situation around the Grünheide plant. “But I assume that Tesla will make the right decisions to set up the factory well.”