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Tesla opens factory to build the Model S


October 28, 2010

Tesla Motors' Model S sedan will be built at a former Toyota plant in California

Tesla Motors' Model S sedan will be built at a former Toyota plant in California

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When most of us think of Tesla Motors, we think of the US$100,000 all-electric Roadster. The fact is, though, the first time that most of us ever see a Tesla in real life, it will probably be the less expensive, five door Model S sedan. While the company has sold over 1,300 Roadsters worldwide, the Model S has yet to start production. When it does, however, it will be in the new Tesla Factory, unveiled this Wednesday in Fremont, California. It is the state’s only auto assembly plant and the world’s first facility dedicated exclusively to the mass production of electric vehicles.

The factory is located in the former New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) building. NUMMI was originally run as a joint venture by Toyota and GM, where vehicles that were sold under both brand names had been manufactured since 1984. Toyota will be now be collaborating with Tesla in that same building, on production of the electric version of Toyota’s RAV 4 and other projects.

Fremont is in the Silicon Valley region, near Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters, so the engineering know-how will be readily accessible. NUMMI was still being used to produce Toyotas as recently as this April, and Tesla claims it is “one of the largest, most advanced and cleanest automotive production plants in the world.” The plant utilized – and is still equipped for – the Toyota Production System, and is capable of producing half a million cars per year. According to a report in Autoblog, Tesla plans to produce 20,000 vehicles there annually – both the Model S, and future models.

The bodies for the company's Roadsters are currently made by Lotus in the UK, with powertrain production and final assembly taking place in California.

“This is a momentous day in Tesla history, turning our advanced electric vehicle technology into a mass manufacturing reality,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. “Model S is blazing a new trail for the industry and it will all happen right here – the Tesla Factory gives us plenty of room to grow.”

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

What a great-looking sedan! Wow. Could imagine trading in my old Lexus for this one...

Go Tesla, best of luck, mates!

Matt Rings

I\'ve followed Tesla with admiration since the company became publicly known. The Roadster is of course a modified Lotus Elise, but that\'s one beautiful car from an amazing company already, and then made magic by Tesla. I love it. I\'ve never tried one, but several times seen them in use here in Oslo, Norway. (There\'s not much sound, but still the sound is what gives me goose bumps!)

The sedan looks like a real winner. Maybe it\'s just in my mind, but I think I see very noble ancestry in it\'s lines too. Both British Aston Martin and Italian Maserati could have made that car. Not bad! I just want one.

The fact that Tesla is a small new actor in the car industry, a scene where huge companies fail miserably at much easier goals, and still is able to produce two stunning car designs, and introduce state of the art tech that is actually working for everyday use, is no less than amazing!

Tesla seemingly has a steady pace towards \"World dominance\", or at least becoming a full scale car maker. Having a big capacity high quality factory, plus good connections within the business, is a very big step. The cars look good and the company looks good. Go Tesla!

PS One thing mentioned in this article seems to be wrong: \"...and the world%u2019s first facility dedicated exclusively to the mass production of electric vehicles.\" Well. As there has been a number of proper production electric cars for a few years, some of which make no other (ICE) cars, that must be wrong, unless they define the word \"facility\" some obscure way.

One local Norwegian illustration: Think (www.thinkev.com) started about 20 years ago. In 1999 they started their first series production in a facility specially made for that a bit outside of Oslo. They\'re still in business and reportedly just sold number 2500 of their current model \"Think City\", which they claim makes it the worlds most sold electric car model. But even though Think make proper cars, not just covered electric scooters, they address a quite different market than Tesla.

Other pure electric car production \"facilities\" probably existed somewhere before that one too. Tesla is not even close to being first (Lohner-Porsche 110 years back...). They just appear to be the best, which is plenty to make me happy.


It looks like a Jaguar. Not that that\'s a bad thing, but not much original in the basic blob on wheels design.

Facebook User

If the Tesla model S sedan fulfills all of my requirements in pricing,mileage and performance. I may be interested in buying it.

Charles Alexander

I have a question concerning the all electric vehicles you are about to make/ I need to drive 7 miles one way to work. So that means I need a an electric vehicle that can get at least 140 miles in one day. Also,I live in a condo which doesn\'t have a garage. How do I recharge my vehicle. Before I go to work again?

Charles Alexander

Let me see if we have this right. You live in a condo but are looking at a car that costs about 50 grand. Hmm. Ok. Well, an EV may not be for you. The car (from what I\'ve read) can do the daily drive but not if you can\'t plug it in every night. Shame really. But that\'s just the reality of EVs for now. For a car that good looking, I\'d move!


Uh, if he lives in California his condo could easily cost $1M and could afford, or at least think he can afford a $50K car. I see this every day.

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