- 16th July 2019
- Posted by: Hakeem
- Categories: Innovation, Technology
- Tesla produced a record 72,531 Model 3 electric sedans in the second quarter of 2019.
- Employees in the open-air GA4 “tent,” which is not fully automated, tell CNBC they were pressured to take shortcuts to hit those goals — reducing vehicle testing for water leaks, and using electrical tape to make quick fixes during Model 3 assembly.
- Employees in the tent have also had to work through harsh weather and unhealthy air quality, they say.
Employees wear layers, and big coats that can impede their movement. Supervisors distribute disposable hand-warming packets that workers slip into their gloves or tape to their bodies. Tesla provided big red jackets for GA4 workers last year, but stopped distributing them by early 2019, according to several current and former employees.
On cold nights early this year, workers in a tented “paint hospital” sometimes used heat lamps, which are used to dry paint and clear coat on cars, to warm their own bodies, according to current and former production associates. This paint hospital has since been moved indoors, according to public records with the city of Fremont.
At a GA4 station where employees checked Model 3 vehicle alignment, Carlos Aranda said, workers used space heaters in late 2018. But when it rained, water seeping into the tent from above and below made these a hazard, he said.
He shared photos of a leaking roof and space heater there, plugged in, with rain puddling nearby. Tesla says using space heaters is against company policy.
Pests are another problem. In the second-quarter of 2019, Tesla employees said, mice chewed through wires and caused a conveyor breakdown in early May, delaying Model 3 production on at least one shift. Tesla said it has no record of this occurring.
A former physician’s assistant who worked at Tesla’s on-site clinic, Anna Watson, said: “It was general knowledge that the GA4 tent and North Paint were the most challenging places to work at Tesla,” during her brief tenure there in 2018. Another former Tesla HR employee confirmed this, and said the tent was seen as a place for tougher workers, or young blood.
Tesla offered the following statement in response to this story:
“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. Dedicated inspection teams track every car throughout every shop in the assembly line, and every vehicle is then subjected to an additional quality control process towards the end of line. And all of this happens before a vehicle leaves the factory and is delivered to a customer. This applies to all areas of the factory, including our operations at GA4, and it’s why Tesla is able to build the safest and best-performing cars available today.
“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. In fact, we have a large number of employees who request to work on GA4 based on what they hear from colleagues and what they have seen first-hand.”