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TECHNEWS · Thursday, July 6, 2017

A tour of the Tesla manufacturing while launching Model 3

An impressing factory, where 5,000 workers and 500 robots work together, as if they were dancers. Jamis MacNiven speaks about his visit to the Fremont factory in California, where Elon Musk is producing "Model 3".

Tesla's President, Elon Musk, announced that "Model 3" - the $35,000 cheapest electric car of Testa - has passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule. Production is starting and the first units will leave the assembly lines tomorrow, Friday, July 7th. Tesla aims to reach 20,000 monthly cars by the end of the year.

I took a tour of the Tesla automobile manufacturing plant in Fremont. I suppose there are other factories as impressive but I’ve never seen one. There are 4 to 5,000 people working there and over 500 stationary robots (and uncountable mobile robots) all conspiring to build the two models in production.

We traveled in a tram and cruised much of the plant. The five million sq. foot building is already too small after just five years and the 80,000 - some cars they produce will soon ramp up to 500,000 cars per year. The scale is unimaginable but what was most remarkable was the coordination of all the parts, the people and the machines. And the place is clean. No smells, no dust or grease and they actually eat off the factory floor as the cafeteria is in middle of the factory with no walls.

Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning with first Testa.
Tesla had many of their foundational meetings at Buck’s when Woodside’s Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning dreamed up the venture. They named the company and they created the prototypes. They were building these cars in San Carlos and at one point I took a double decker Burning Man bus over to the plant and we had a Friday afternoon beer bust. We got every one of the employees of Tesla on the bus with room to spare. We would now need a bigger bus I think.

Elon came aboard soon after and has made an outrageous success of the firm with the help of a great many investors and supporters but the entire enterprise started with two guys who thought they could build something legendary. And they did.

So after all my travels where I went to the edge and peered over at the future I am now ready to step back into the past and am soon headed for some of the most backward and sunburnt regions on earth where I expect that not a whole lot has changed in 1,000s of years. But that’s a story for next time.

Jamis H. MacNiven

Jamis MacNiven is the founder of Buck's, the iconic Woodside restaurant, informal meeting place of Silicon Valley investors.

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