According to a new Bloomberg report, Fremont’s Tesla factory, the only car factory in California, is the most productive auto plant in North America, beating out 70 other factories.
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In 2021, the Fremont factory produced an average of 8,550 cars a week, topping the 8,427 made weekly at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant, the 8,343 produced per week at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina factory, and the 5,564 created at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan facility.
The announcement surprised many due to Tesla’s rapid growth and recent problems in California. Founded in 2003 by Elon Musk, Tesla first began producing vehicles in 2008. By 2012, the Fremont plant was only producing 60 cars a week. However, the boom of electric cars followed the Great Recession and consumers willingness to pay more for them. Tesla exploded in growth throughout the latter 2010’s and into the 2020’s.
During this time, the company began to get annoyed with higher taxes in California, as well as the numerous attempts to unionize the factory. The economic shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in early to mid 2020 drew the ire of Musk, who quickly scrambled to reopen the factory as soon as possible. Musk reopened early anyway and threatened to leave the state, causing Alameda County officials and state lawmakers to openly mock him.
Musk proceeded to leave California for Texas in late 2020, with Musk moving the company headquarters from Palo Alto to Austin a year later. Despite this, Musk has also renewed commitment to California projects, expanding the Fremont factory as much as possible and even building a new battery Megafactory in Lathrop.
The Fremont factory, as well as a Shanghai car factory, a Sparks, Nevada battery Gigafactory, have combined to create 936,000 vehicles this year, as well as help break more into the expanding battery market. While Tesla is still dwarfed by car companies that produce millions a year and a factory combined 30-50 thousand cars a week, Tesla may be primed to overtake many in the coming years.
In addition to the new Lathrop factory, new auto giga factories in Austin and Berlin are expected to open soon to better serve the North American and European markets, with sites for other Gigafactories currently being scouted.
In Fremont, California once again having the most productive car factory on the continent has been the result of drastic demand expanding the facility as much as possible, going past the limits that GM had utilized at the plant when they had built cars there decades ago.
“If you go to our Fremont factory it’s jammed,” said Musk last year. “When we first went in there, we were like a kid in his parent’s shoes. Now we’re like spam-in-a-can here.”
Fremont Tesla factory named most efficient auto factory
While the Austin plant is expected to alleviate the demand, output at the Fremont factory is not expected to go down. Due to strong demand for Teslas on the West Coast, as well as rising overseas demand, the Fremont facility can easily fill due to its proximity to ports in Northern California.
“Fremont has proven again and again to have been the best possible choice,” Paul Merchant, a car factory inspector from Detroit told the Globe on Wednesday. “When Tesla set up shop there at the old GM plant, car companies waved it off. They said California was expensive and all that.
“And while it is, they made it work. There are higher wages there than other places, but transportation is quite accessible for road, rail, and port, saving big on company-bound trucking costs. Plus, no one else wanted to go to Fremont, so they got a good deal.
“What was once considered an unwise place to set up a car factory, California’s only one is now the most productive in the US. They aren’t coming out and saying it, but other companies are pretty furious about this. I won’t say which company, but a representative whom I work with yelled at me all yesterday for losing to Elon Musk of all people. To losing to a California factory. That was the biggest slap in the face. They see as California bogged down in regulations and openly say that Southern states can fill in any efficiency gaps, but they just proved them wrong. It took high demand and really pushing what they can do there, but they did it. A factory in regulation and high tax heaven beat out all the others.”
“It shows Tesla’s tenacity, and seriously, the work ethic out there. Oh and they’re scared. If Musk can bring that Fremont efficiency to their Austin plant, which has the capacity to produce so many more, then we’re talking about the other companies losing market share. And they are not happy about that to say the least.”
Tesla, the tenth largest automaker in North America, is expected to grow massively during the rest of the decade.