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How Tesla Production Works
Tesla cars are manufactured at company-owned plants located around the world. There are numerous supply chains involved, as not all of the parts are made in the same location. This isn't unusual, as automakers abandoned the all-in-one production facility model decades ago.
That said, Tesla has done a remarkable job centralizing (or 'shoring up') its parts supply and manufacturing facilities over the last few years. Batteries, for example, once supplied primarily by Panasonic, are now produced in-house for many vehicles. This was a long time in the making and a big production goal for Tesla.
Where are Tesla Cars Assembled?
Early Tesla vehicles were produced and partially assembled by Lotus in the United Kingdom. By 2010, Tesla was producing most of its vehicles almost entirely in the United States. This is still the case today, as the majority of Tesla automobiles are made in the U.S.
Current Tesla Car Production and Warehouse Facilities
Tesla has multiple parts, production, and support facilities located around the United States. Here are the current plants involved in producing cars domestically.
1. Tesla Fremont Factory (California)
The most prominent long standing Tesla production facility is the Tesla Fremont Factory, located in Fremont, California. Here, Tesla produces the Model S, the Model 3, the Model X, and the Model Y. In the future, the second-generation Tesla Roadster will also be produced at this location.
The Tesla Fremont factory is enormous. The former General Motors and Toyota production facility stretches across 5,300,000 square feet—all of which is indoor floor space. This facility is large enough to house and operate the entire assembly process for numerous Tesla vehicles.
The facility currently employs about 10,000 people, and it's one of the largest employers under one roof in the area. As a testament to American manufacturing resourcefulness, the Fremont plant entered its third life as a Tesla plant in 2010.
2. Tesla Lathrop Factory (California)
Tesla's Lathrop Facility in Lathrop, California, looks like a shoebox compared to the massive Fremont plant. That said, it's still a very large facility that's instrumental to the regional production of Tesla vehicles. The Lathrop factory covers about 500,000 square feet of floor space.
The Lathrop Factory was acquired by Tesla and converted into a part storage and distribution facility in 2014. The facility, which was once used for a similar purpose by Chrysler, is designed to support the enormous parts appetite of the nearby Fremont factory.
Tesla added roughly 65,000 square feet to the facility to make room for its larger and more complex parts storage needs. The Lathrop facility is also much more efficient than it was under Chrysler, as Tesla has innovative computerized inventory systems that were not available at the time.
3. Giga Texas (Austin, Texas)
Tesla's new Gigafactory is currently under construction, but it's set to open sometime in 2021. Located in Austin, Texas, the newest Tesla Gigafactory is designed to produce the Model 3, the Model Y, the Cybertruck, and the future Tesla Semi.
The Giga Texas facility is set to employ around 10,000 people and has a capacity similar to Tesla's enormous Fremont, California plant. The Facility is going to be large—but we're not sure just how large the completed site will be. Additionally, many more details about the future plans are not yet available.
The facility is likely going to be the most modern and 'tech-like' car factory in the world. This will be one of the first car plants ever constructed from scratch by Tesla—and it'll include many of the amenities that are often found at tech companies.
This includes a hiking trail and public recreational facilities, some of which are open to anyone in the area who wants to use them.
Tesla Solar and Energy Storage System Plants
Tesla also operates several manufacturing facilities for its renewable energy and power storage systems. Much of this production is also based in the United States, making Tesla one of the leaders in domestic tech production. Here are its U.S.-based energy tech production facilities.
1. Giga Nevada (Storey County, Nevada)
One of Tesla's most high-profile projects to date was its Nevada Gigafactory. The large facility, which was built from scratch and opened in 2016, is located in a relatively remote part of Storey County, Nevada. It's not complete yet—but it is in operation at the moment.
Once completed, the Giga Nevada factory will be one of the largest buildings of any kind in the entire world. At the moment, the building has 5,300,000 square feet of floor space, making it equal in area to Tesla's enormous Fremont factory. As of the writing of this article, the Giga Nevada plant employs roughly 7,000 people.
The factory currently produces lithium-ion batteries, the Tesla Powerwall, the Tesla Powerpack, and the Tesla Megapack. Eventually, the Nevada Gigafactory will be a key production point for Tesla's electric semi-trucks.
It is also set to begin Tesla Semi production prior to the Austin Gigafactory, making it the first true electric semi-truck production plant in the world.
2. Giga New York (Buffalo, New York)
The New York Gigafactory came into being differently than Tesla's other plants. It became a Tesla asset after SolarCity merged with the company. The plant, now operated by Tesla and in partnership with Panasonic, began producing its own native solar equipment and solar cells for the company in 2018.
The site is not entirely brand new, even before SolarCity got ahold of it. The area, which is located along the banks of the Buffalo River, was originally home to a massive Republic Steel mill and production facility. At this time, the New York Gigafactory produces the Tesla Solar Roof and Tesla Superchargers.
The mill, which began operating at the turn of the century, closed in 1984, and the site saw various uses until it became a high-tech solar production facility. Today, it employs around 1,500 people and eventually plans to hire more than 1,500 additional workers once production expands to its full capacity.
Worldwide Tesla Production
The majority of Tesla's automotive and component production takes place in the United States, and much of it is exported to other countries. But due to increased overseas demand, particularly in Europe and China, Tesla is working to open large overseas production facilities to serve local markets.
1. Giga Shanghai (China)
Tesla's Shanghai Gigafactory, located in the major Chinese industrial center, is a massive production facility and one of the largest in the world. The factory was built specifically to serve the Asian market, and it currently produces the Tesla Model 3 and the Tesla Model Y.
The factory was built in around 12 months, which is a remarkable feat considering its enormous 9,300,000 square foot floor plan. The facility opened in 2019, and despite some start-up issues, is now employing around 2,000 people in the region.
The plant is highly automated and efficient, and it has yet to realize its full production potential.
2. Giga Berlin (Germany)
Germany is home to Tesla's largest European production center to date and also one of its most advanced. The plant, which is currently under construction, will employ around 10,000 people. The plant is strategically located in Grünheide, Brandenburg, Germany, just outside of Berlin and close to the railway.
And Germany was an obvious choice, as the country is home to the most advanced automakers and car-making expertise in the entire world. The plant, which started construction in 2019, is set to be completed by the end of 2021.
The advanced Giga Berlin plant (also known as Gigafactory Europe or Gigafactory 4) will produce and assemble the Tesla Model Y. It will also produce battery packs for multiple Tesla vehicles, along with drivetrains and drivetrain parts. The site currently employs about 8,000 people, but that number is likely to increase as construction finishes, and production takes off.
How Many Tesla Gigafactories Are There?
Currently, Tesla has five Gigafactories semi-complete or under construction. These are located in Nevada, Texas, New York, Shanghai (China), and Berlin (Germany). Gigafactories are Tesla's unique term for its larger and more advanced production facilities.
In addition to automobiles, Tesla Gigafactories produce batteries, solar cells, power packs, and charging equipment. Tesla Gigafactories are some of the most advanced manufacturing facilities in the world, and they're designed to help Tesla reach its 500,000 car per year goal.
Sustainability is a key aspect of these massive projects. The Nevada Gigafactory is located in an area with frequent sunlight and ideal solar conditions, as it's designed to eventually rely primarily on solar energy from its enormous roof.
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding