Tesla Motors building new manufacturing site in Lathrop, CA, for manufacturing expansion at low wages

Tesla Motors is apparently setting up a small manufacturing facility, in California, that has little or nothing to do with the Gigafactory.  The latter facility is meant to double the worlds production of lithium-ion batteries, requiring over 10 million square feet, a rail line, and space for a big solar panel array.  Instead, the new facility will be in Lathrop CA, and have 431,000 square feet of space, that could expand by another 125,000 square feet.

The news was reported today by the Manteca Bulletin, the local newspaper for Lathrop.  The facility was originally owned by Mopar, Chryslers parts division, and was originally built in 2001 when Daimler owned Chrysler.  Their purpose for the building was parts warehousing and distribution.  However, plans never went to fruition because Chrysler and Daimler parted ways.

Tesla has already arranged for permits and begun renovations.

Going by jobs listing on Tesla’s website, this facility will house a bunch of CNC machines.  The jobs include CNC operators, CNC supervisors, training, and robotic machine operators.  Clearly this facility will be a small scale manufacturing center for Tesla.

The company has plenty of space going unused at the former-NUMMI plant in Fremont.  Well, I assume that’s the case, I haven’t been inside to see for myself.  However, when that factory was owned by Toyota/GM, it had a 450,000 car/year production capacity.  Tesla is manufacturing a fraction of that amount, today.  It’s a fair assumption, then, that the factory has lots of empty space in it.

Tesla is continuing to ramp up production because they’re expanding Tesla Model S sales in Europe and China, while maintaining a sales rate in the U.S. of 20,000+ cars per year.  That means Tesla Model S production must go above 40,000 cars per year, plus the Tesla Model X is due to begin small scale production at the end of this year and ramp up to full production during 2015.

Hence, Tesla must ramp up parts production and therefore must install new CNC machines somewhere, and hire operators for those machines.  The question would be – where?  And what does the choice of Lathrop tell us?

Basically – that Tesla wants to expand manufacturing to areas where wages can be lower.  Lathrop is in the Central Valley, where high unemployment will mean lower wages.  It’s less than an hours drive from Lathrop to Fremont, making it quite possible to build parts in Lathrop for assembly in Fremont.

The facility is at 18260 Harlan Road, Lathrop, CA.  I stumbled across the brochure from the real estate broker listing the attributes of the facility.

A pretty normal commercial building, set among other commercial buildings.  It’s right next to the intersection of I-5 and Hwy-120, and Hwy-99 is close by.  The optional expansion area is the grassy spot to the rear of the building.

Plenty of power, etc.  The large flat roof should make for a big solar panel array by Solar City, don’t you think?

This is the vicinity.  Another possible advantage are those rail lines, because the Fremont facility is also next to rail lines.  Is there an option of shipping parts from Lathrop to Fremont using rail?

Here’s the jobs list.

 

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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