Tesla is trying to reopen Fremont factory today based on vague authorization

Tesla is trying to reopen Fremont factory today with about 30% of its workforce, despite moving forward based on a vague authorization.

As we previously reported, It has now been seven weeks since Tesla had to close its Fremont factory, which brought its operations in North America and Europe to a crawl.

An announcement from California Governor Gavin Newsom gave some hope that Tesla could reopen the Fremont factory before the end of the month, but the state guidelines are not a clear green light for Tesla to restart operations.

Nonetheless, Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent an email to employees last night telling them that they plan to restart Fremont factory on Friday afternoon due to the governor’s statement.

In the email, Musk wrote:

In light of Governor Newsom’s statement earlier today approving manufacturing in California, we will aim to restart production in Fremont tomorrow afternoon.

Newsom’s statement actually only referred to manufacturing related to a few retail businesses that are allowed to reopen for curbside pickup on Friday.

The governor also said that the state’s guidelines can be followed or not by local counties who ultimately decide when to start lifting their shelter-in-place orders.

As we previously reported, Tesla defied early shelter-in-place orders in the Bay Area and attempted to stay open based on the federal government’s definition of “essential businesses,” but it ultimately was shut down by the Alameda County, which is the county where its Fremont factory is located.

Alameda county reiterated this week that its shelter-in-place order remains in place despite the governor’s announcement

Musk added in his email to employees last night:

I will be on the line personally helping wherever I can. However, if you feel uncomfortable coming back to work at this time, please do not feel obligated to do so. These are difficult times, so thanks very much for working hard to make Tesla successful!

In another email to employees, Tesla’s HR said that about 30% of Fremont factory’s 10,000 people workforce would be called back to work to begin the plant restart process.

Tesla plans to put social distancing measures in place within the factory, as it did in Shanghai Gigafactory in China.

Electrek’s Take

Unsurprisingly, Tesla is taking the aggressive approach here.

Like it did at the start of the crisis in the US, it is trying to use what the government is saying at different levels to justify restarting the factory, but it appears that what is most important is what the county says.

In a sense, I understand why Tesla is being more aggressive. They not only need Fremont factory to restart for financial reasons, but they also see things working fine at Gigafactory Shanghai so they feel like it should work in Fremont, too.

However, with the rate of new cases in Northern California, it seems like Tesla could be very close to getting official approval from the county to reopen. Maybe they should just wait for it even if it means a few more weeks.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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