- Tesla employees took shortcuts such as using electrical tape to fix certain parts when trying to meet production goals for the Model 3, according to a CNBC report.
- In addition to taking shortcuts, employees also grappled with working through cold temperatures at night and heat during the day, according to the report.
- Tesla disputed those claims in a statement to Business Insider, saying that the anecdotes are “misleading” and “do not reflect our manufacturing processes.”
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In an effort to meet aggressive production goals for the Model 3, Tesla employees took shortcuts that included using electrical tape to fix certain parts, according to a CNBC report.
Those working in Tesla’s general assembly 4 (GA4) tent were told to take shortcuts to hit their goals, according to CNBC, which cited five people who work or have worked there recently. Plastic housings and brackets tend to break more frequently when it’s cold, for example, and supervisors reportedly encouraged workers to use electrical tape to make fixes rather than waiting for additional supplies, according to the report.
Those housings and brackets are used to hold important components in place such as “triple cam” connections, which are used to help the vehicle detect things like roads and traffic lights, according to CNBC. Many cables and white brackets used in the Model 3 already come with electrical tape on them from suppliers, according to Tesla, but current and former workers reportedly told CNBC that the use of electrical tape they described is not the same as this factory tape. The report also details a few other shortcuts employees had taken to meet production goals, such as sending cars down the line that were missing a few nuts or bolts and scaling back on water testing used to detect leaks.
A Tesla spokesperson said it would never encourage or condone shortcuts in production. The company conducts water tests on a sample basis and is not aware of an instance in which this test was skipped in an effort to speed up production.
In a statement to Business Insider, Tesla called the employee accounts described by CNBC “misleading” and said it has “dedicated teams” that “track every car throughout every shop in the assembly line.”
“In order to ensure the highest quality, we review every vehicle for even the smallest refinement before it leaves the factory. Dedicated inspection teams track every car throughout every shop in the assembly line, and every vehicle is then subjected to an additional quality control process towards the end of line. And all of this happens before a vehicle leaves the factory and is delivered to a customer. This applies to all areas of the factory, including our operations at GA4, and it’s why Tesla is able to build the safest and best-performing cars available today,” the company said in a statement.
In addition to reportedly circumventing testing and implementing quick fixes, Tesla employees have grappled with working in cold conditions overnight and in the heat during day, CNBC reports. To cope with the cold, some workers reportedly used heat lamps typically used for drying paint to stay warm.
A Tesla spokesperson said its Environmental Health and Safety team regularly monitors temperatures to make sure it’s maintaining a comfortable and safe work environment for its employees as well as its production equipment and parts. It monitors temperature, airflow, and humidity and provides fans, hydration, rest breaks, and heat stress awareness training, the company says.
Employees were also called into work when smoke from the Camp Fire wildfire that ravaged northern California last November floated up and did not distribute masks to workers until after they had asked for them, according to CNBC. Tesla said it immediately offered air filter masks to employees who wanted them at several Tesla sites, and that it monitored the air quality nearly every hour. The firm also says it regularly checked in with employees on-site and provided masks every day as a precaution.
“We work hard to create a work environment that is as safe, fair and fun as possible, and it is incredibly important to us that employees look forward to coming to work every day. In fact, we have a large number of employees who request to work on GA4 based on what they hear from colleagues and what they have seen first-hand,” Tesla said in their statement.
The report comes after Tesla said that broke a record when it comes to the number of cars it produced and delivered in the second quarter of 2019. The electric car maker said it delivered 95,200 vehicles worldwide, breaking its past record of 90,700 in the fourth quarter of last year and marking a rebound from a lackluster first quarter that only yielded 63,000 deliveries.