Tesla Gears Up For Model X Production, Idles Plant For Retooling

Tesla will be doing something new to the company in the coming months: producing more than one type of vehicle at a time.

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Tesla will soon build both the new Model X SUV along with its existing Model S sedan on the same production line.

The company started with just the hand-built Roadster in 2008, then ceased that and switched over in 2012 exclusively producing the Model S. Now in order to add the pending Model X SUV alongside the Model S sedan, some factory upgrades are needed to help facilitate Tesla’s increased multi-tasking.

According to Automotive News, that includes a shutdown yesterday to its California-located plant, and a $100 million investment to speed up the current assembly process by around 25 percent.

Tesla produced around 800 Model S sedans per week before the shutdown, and CEO Elon Musk has previously said his goal was to increase that to 1,000 units a week, which would help the company meet Musk’s promise to globally deliver at least 35,000 units this year.

Currently, Tesla builds its electric motors and lithium-ion battery packs at its sole assembly plant, but is investigating locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas to build a $5-plus billion factory focused solely on battery production. Musk’s estimate of 30 percent savings in battery costs once the location comes online is crucial for the company’s to-be-produced Model 3 sedan, which is smaller than the Model S and targeted to be about half the price.

With a significant chunk of Tesla’s 6,000 employees working on the plant floor, the company is suggesting those affected by the shutdown should take vacation or do training shifts at the factory. Tesla figures production should resume on Aug. 4.

Prior to Tesla’s ownership, the Fremont factory was previously known as NUMMI, a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota, which produced Toyota Corolla-based compacts like the Chevrolet Nova and Geo Prism, along with the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix twins.

Automotive News