Tesla’s new battery “Gigafactory” gets so many headlines that it’s easy to forget that the car company does still have another factory. The original Tesla manufacturing facility in Fremont is still where all the cars get built, and new photos show that it’s growing at speed.
A report from Electrek shows some distant shots of a new multi-storey building going up on Tesla’s property in Fremont. The company hasn’t disclosed what it’s for, but rampant internet speculation claims that it’s a robotic warehouse that could help Tesla hit its wildly ambitious manufacturing goals.
The new structure is right on the periphery of Tesla’s existing factory, and it’s easily the tallest structure on Tesla property. Right now, the building is just a shell, but the latticework inside does suggest that it’s some kind of storage or warehousing facility, rather than an assembly line (as those tend to be more flat).
Electrek noticed the similarity to an “Automated Storage and Retrieval System” made by Schafer. An automated warehouse like that can move and store tens of thousands of pallets of raw materials and deliver them with virtually no oversight from humans — exactly the kind of thing Tesla’s famously robot-friendly owner, Elon Musk, would be into.
An automated warehousing system could also be one of the keys to Tesla hitting its ambitious production targets for the Model 3. One of the many logistics problems that investors identified with Tesla’s manufacturing plan is the ability to keep component supply consistent, even as orders for the Model 3 drive Tesla’s manufacturing capacity to the max. An automated warehouse would let Tesla control its manufacturing inventory carefully, while also not increasing the marginal cost per car built.
As an added bonus, it would also reduce Tesla’s reliance on actual human workers for car manufacturing. Tesla has had its share of complaints already from the workforce in Fremont, who allege abusively long hours and a dangerous work environment due to the pace of assembly. Robots work 24 hours for no pay, and definitely don’t complain.