Tesla switches to 'touchless deliveries' for customers, will temporarily shut down Fremont facility next week
Production at the company's solar panel factory in Buffalo, New York will also be partially suspendedBy Humza Aamir
In context: In an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), San Francisco's Alameda County ordered all nonessential businesses in the area to halt operations earlier this week. Tesla, which has a car manufacturing plant in Fremont, was categorized as an "essential business" by the local authorities initially, but the decision was soon reversed with the county sheriff requiring that the company stick to minimum basic operations. Although the carmaker classifies "production, service, deliveries, testing, and support groups" as "essential" operations, challenges facing its employees and suppliers during the pandemic have caused it to temporarily suspend production at its Fremont factory, as it plans to continue basic operations and deploys 'touchless delivery' for fulfilling customer orders.
Tesla's Fremont car manufacturing plant in San Francisco Bay Area will suspend operations temporarily, followed by an "orderly shutdown," the company announced in an official statement. The electric carmaker joins Fiat, Ford, GM, and Honda, who recently issued similar statements regarding the temporary shutdown of plants in the US, an industry trend that's also spread across Europe and the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Plans to suspend production will go into effect from March 24, after which Tesla will continue basic operations related to vehicle and energy servicing as well as supporting its charging infrastructure.
Tesla's solar panel factory in New York will experience a similar pause in operations that will suspend production temporarily, excluding parts and supplies necessary to maintain infrastructure and critical supply chains, while the company's Nevada Gigafactory and Supercharging network will continue to function normally.
Interestingly, Tesla will also ensure that customers keep getting their ordered vehicles without interruption, as it looks to implement 'touchless deliveries' across many locations in the US. The process essentially removes the need for a customer to physically interact with a Tesla employee/salesperson, adhering to COVID-19 preventive measures, and requires them to be at their specific delivery parking lot to complete the order.
Once they've arrived, Tesla's OTA connectivity will allow the customer to use the TeslaApp and unlock their new car, wherein they will find remaining relevant paperwork waiting for them to be signed. The documents will then be left at an on-site drop-off location for Tesla to pick up later, a method which the company says provides added convenience and comfort for customers.
In regards to staying afloat during this difficult time, Tesla says that it has sufficient liquidity to go through an extended period of uncertainty, thanks to a recent $2.3B capital raise, following a profitable Q4'19.