Report: Tesla Employees Say They Were Pressured To Take Shortcuts To Meet Model 3 Production Goal

The company says the information from unnamed sources is "misleading" and that it doesn't condone shortcuts

Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Hot or Not
  • Tesla aggressively pushed to meet quarterly production records.
  • However, employees in the company’s GA4 “tent” said they had to take shortcuts to keep production moving.
  • Employees also said they had to work through harsh conditions to meet goals.

Tesla employees had to use “fast fixes” on the line.

The Model 3 is by far the company’s most popular car, as Tesla produced 72,531 examples in the second quarter of 2019. According to a new CNBC report, that progress is coming at a cost, as employees feel the pressure to ramp up production at Tesla’s Fremont, California facility. Several employees in the company’s GA4 open air “tent”, used to speed up production, say they worked through extreme temperatures and unhealthy air quality during last year’s wildfires in Northern California.

What’s more, four employees told CNBC they were told by supervisor to use fast fixes on the line to keep Tesla Model 3 production moving. That included using electrical tape to fix cracks on plastic housings, and they even provided photos showing where they applied the tape. Tesla’s General Assembly 4 tent has been operating since spring 2018, though it was supposed to be only temporary. Now, the tent produces up to 360 cars per day — 120 per shift across three shifts — according to employees.

Unlike the actual factory where sophisticated, automated processes come into play during manufacturing, GA4 uses manual labor and power tools. People said the work is physically demanding, while five who recently worked for the company told CNBC that “workers were encouraged to take shortcuts to hit their production goals in the tent”.

Tesla breaks ground on Shanghai Gigafactory
Tesla’s Fremont, California facility. [Photo: Tesla]

Tesla’s response

The report documents workers who say they took other shortcuts besides just electrical tape. For instance, five current and former workers said they would pass cars down the line even if they were missing bolts, nuts or lugs. All of this, they said, was meant to save production time.

A Tesla spokesperson said the company found no evidence of these quick fixes. What’s more, they would never officially condone or encourage it. They went further to say that Tesla “has a robust quality assurance team that reviews each vehicle at the end of the GA4 assembly line to ensure every car was built correctly and is perfect before it leaves our factory and goes to customers.”

Workers contend GA4 is the most challenging part of the factory to work, because of the tougher conditions. Beyond just temperature, the employees and the cars can also be at least partially exposed to inclement weather during the production process. Some employees said mice were also a problem. They would chew through wires, causing a conveyor breakdown in early May and hampering production. For its part, Tesla said it has no record of the incident.

Official statement

After CNBC published their report, Tesla issued an official response. An excerpt is below:

“The anecdotes reported by CNBC from a few unnamed sources are misleading and do not reflect our manufacturing practices or what it’s like to work at Tesla. As we’ve said before, our goal is to produce a perfect car for every customer. In order to ensure the highest quality, we review every vehicle for even the smallest refinement before it leaves the factory…”

In their statement, Tesla continued by saying it has dedicated inspection teams to check cars before they leave the factory. That includes GA4, as well as the interior of the Fremont facility. “We work hard to create a work environment that is as safe, fair and fun as possible, and it is incredibly important to us that employees look forward to coming to work every day.”

Do you own a Tesla Model 3 and have experienced any quality issues? Let us know in the comments below.