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Tesla on temporary Model 3 production shutdown: Nothing to see here

Workers at Tesla's Fremont factory assemble cars back in 2015. This week Model 3 production is on a
Workers at Tesla’s Fremont factory assemble cars back in 2015. This week Model 3 production is on a “break.”
Image: David Butow/Corbis via Getty Images

Tesla’s implemented a Model 3 production break this week as the company struggles to meet demand, reportedly catching employees off guard. 

All eyes are on Model 3 production as Tesla has been lagging behind its production goals for the sedan and CEO Elon Musk has stepped in to oversee the process — even sleeping at the factory to get more cars on the road.

For Tesla’s part, the company says the break was planned and is necessary to increase production.

But BuzzFeed reported Monday that employees were blindsided by the multi-day shutdown. Employees told the outlet they would have to use vacation days, stay home without pay, or — if lucky — get paid to work somewhere else within Tesla.

In a statement Monday, a Tesla spokesperson said like a “planned downtime” on the Model 3 production back in February, this week’s production break is part of an overall plan. 

“These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates. This is not unusual and is in fact common in production ramps like this,” a spokesperson said. 

Tesla’s Fremont factory and Gigafactory 1 shutdowns were addressed in a first quarter production report earlier this month and described as helping increase production. “We were able to double the weekly Model 3 production rate during the quarter by rapidly addressing production and supply chain bottlenecks, including several short factory shutdowns to upgrade equipment.”

In the first quarter, Tesla produced 9,766 Model 3s, four times as many as the prior quarter. According to Tesla’s quarterly reports, about 12,500 Model 3s have been produced; over 500,000 have been ordered.

A pro-Union Facebook page for Tesla employees includes a post from Friday about increased work hours for those on Model S and X production lines. We’ve reached out to the local Fremont United Auto Workers union (the union has an ongoing beef with Tesla) to confirm BuzzFeed’s report and are awaiting a response. 

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