Posted Jul 28th 2014 10:00AM
That darling of the electric car world, Tesla, is idling production at its factory in Fremont, CA, for the first time in order to expand the factory in preparation for its future Model X crossover. The US$100-million renovation will add 25 robots and upgrades to the body shop and assembly line to support the new vehicle.
Since it will be offering two models simultaneously, Tesla will need to be able to keep up with the pace of demand. "This represents the single biggest investment in the plant since we really started operations and enables us for higher volumes," said Tesla spokesperson Simon Sproule to Bloomberg. The new robots will be able to boost production by 25 per cent and will allow the automaker to build the Model S and Model X on the same assembly line. There won't be too much downtime at the California plant, though. The upgrades will be finished within the next two weeks.
With these factory updates, the Model X may finally get its electrically powered wheels on the road. The CUV has been delayed multiple times since its announcement. It was originally supposed to be on sale in early 2014, then later in the year, but now the latest news from Elon Musk places the crossover's launch in the second quarter of 2015.
Until the Model X is on sale, the renovations should also provide a nice lift in Model S assembly. In the company's first quarter financial report, Tesla said that it expected the sedan's production rate to grow from about 700 cars per week to 1,000 per week by the end of the year, with the expectation of selling a total of 35,000 of them in 2014. That should help quell demand in new markets like the UK and expansion in Europe.