Tesla’s Factory Makes More Cars Than Any Other American Plant
Tesla’s Factory Makes More Cars Than Any Other American Plant
Some of them are even correctly assembled when they leave the assembly line!There’s a funny irony that a factory basically given up on by Toyota and GM is now out-performing them. All that and more in The Morning Shift for January 24, 2022.
1st Gear: More Cars Per Week In 2021 Than Toyota, BMW, Or Ford
This comes from new analysis by Bloomberg, assessing Fremont as America’s most productive factory:
Now, Tesla’s original California factory has achieved a brag-worthy title: the most productive auto plant in North America.
Last year Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, produced an average of 8,550 cars a week. That’s more than Toyota Motor Corp.’s juggernaut in Georgetown, Kentucky (8,427 cars a week), BMW AG’s Spartanburg hub in South Carolina (8,343) or Ford Motor Co.’s iconic truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan (5,564), according to a Bloomberg analysis of production data from more than 70 manufacturing facilities.
Tesla’s Fremont factory is a scrappy site to behold. Originally built by General Motors Co. in the 1960s and jointly operated by GM and Toyota until after GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, new additions have been kludged together to form an anthill of manufacturing. In what was once a rear parking lot, a pair of industrial tent structures provide shelter for bustling assembly lines that wouldn’t fit inside the packed factory.
“When we first went in there, we were like a kid in his parent’s shoes,” Musk recalled at a shareholders’ meeting in October. “Now we’re like spam-in-a-can here: How do we fit more stuff?”
Given still highly-public issues with fit and finish with Tesla’s cars and claims that Tesla “cheaped out” in quality, it’s easy to wonder if this production record is indicative of the company’s tendency to rush things more than is wise.
2nd Gear: Here’s An Interesting Statistic About Chinese EVs
Speaking of EVs, here’s an interesting tidbit on electric vehicle sales in China, the world’s biggest car market. The country recently ended a decades-long requirement that foreign companies form joint-ventures with domestic ones. From Bloomberg:
While the list of China’s top 10 sellers of all passenger vehicles, including combustion engine cars, features seven of the foreign-local ventures, only one – SAIC-GM-Wuling, the producer of the wildly popular Hongguang Mini, a compact four-seater – ranks among the major electric leaders.
In an era of booming EV sales, that points to trouble ahead.
It’s interesting to see how much major Western automakers have totally struggled at producing what the world wants for EVs: something desirable as well as affordable. Tesla sold the Model 3 on that concept (even if it didn’t exactly deliver as promised), and we’ve seen how it’s been doing.
Sam’s Club Membership, Rotisserie Chicken, Cupcakes
Bulk savings at Sam's Club
You throw $20 at StackSocial, and they’ll make sure you get a membership with a $10 electronic gift card, a batch of eight cupcakes, and a rotisserie chicken.
3rd Gear: Bad Review Of Honda’s Level 3 System
The idea of getting into a car that completely drives itself is a novel one, at least if you don’t think about what taxis are for more than a few seconds. The idea of a car that can drive itself until it can’t and suddenly asks you to take control again is somewhat less appealing. That’s the report from Automotive News:
Honda’s Level 3 system uses five lidar sensors from Valeo, five radar units from Continental, two cameras and a global navigation satellite system to steer itself down the road.
But the system operates only in a narrow band because it is geared for use in traffic jams. It can be activated only when the car is going faster than 18 mph. After that, Level 3 can operate in a range from 0 to 31 mph.
But in an hour-and-a-half test drive on Tokyo’s expressways, even during rush hour, conditions were never quite right to luxuriate in Level 3's self-driving mode. For a fleeting moment, on a stretch leading to Tokyo’s Haneda international airport, Level 3 actually did kick in. But almost as quickly, the car exceeded 31 mph – and control was thrown back to the driver.
It’s a good read on how disconcerting it is to be in a car that’s completely in control, but requires you to remain completely attentive for when it gets overwhelmed.
4th Gear: Japan’s Giant Hydrogen Boat Reaches Australia
A fun news story to be tracking is how Japan is pushing the idea of hydrogen as its solution to the general energy crisis. We see hydrogen cars from its automotive champion, Toyota, and we are tracking progress with Japan’s plan to import hydrogen from coal-rich Australia. The first big hydrogen carrier launched in 2019, but testing was delayed because of Covid. Anyway, that test ship finally made it to Australia, as the Japan Times reports:
The world’s first purpose-built liquefied hydrogen carrier, built by a Japanese company, arrived in Australia on Friday, as part of a project to create liquefied hydrogen from Australian brown coal and ship it to Japan.
The Suiso Frontier liquid hydrogen carrier built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. has docked at the Port of Hastings located southeast of Melbourne.
It will transport hydrogen to Japan as part of a project between the two countries and undertaken by a consortium of companies from Australia and Japan including Australian company AGL Energy Ltd. and Japanese firms Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Iwatani Corp.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the shipment of liquid hydrogen, which is a part of the project called Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain, is the start of a major new energy export industry for Australia.
5th Gear: VW Fires Boss Who Raised Cybersecurity Concerns
This is not a cybersecurity issue with VW cars themselves, but with VW’s financial arm. From the Financial Times:
A senior Volkswagen employee was dismissed weeks after raising the alarm about alleged cyber security vulnerabilities at the carmakers’ payments arm, which is soon to be majority-owned by JPMorgan.
The manager alerted bosses in September 2021 to concerns that VW’s system in the region was “open to fraud” following an attempted cyber attack, and maintained that $2.6m sitting in the company’s accounts could be stolen, according to documents seen by the Financial Times.
The staff member, who also told superiors that VW could face regulatory action if the vulnerabilities were not addressed, was then fired in October.
VW said the information provided proved to be “irrelevant” and that “the employee was terminated due to fundamental differences in the way we work together”.
I’m sure this is all fine.
Reverse: Russian Nuclear Satellite Crashes Into Canada
Kosmos 954 failed to eject its nuclear core into the high atmosphere and instead crashed into Canada on January 24, 1978, spraying radioactive material across the Northwest Territories. From the CBC reporting at the time:
On Jan. 24, 1978, Norad tracks a fireball streaking across the skies over the Northwest Territories. Cosmos 954, a Soviet satellite, crashes near Great Slave Lake, scattering radioactive waste across a 124,000 square kilometre swath of the Northwest Territories, Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Ottawa, there are urgent questions for Prime Minister Trudeau: Why wasn’t there more warning? Were the Americans holding back information? And who will clean up the mess?
Neutral: What Are Your First Tesla Memories?
I remember being at a Plug-In Hybrid mixer back in … 2007? 2008? and meeting a Tesla engineer who was talking about the company’s upcoming sedan follow-up to the Roadster. Also, in hot conversation was the coming Chevy Volt.