Panasonic suspending work at Tesla Nevada factory as California and New York gigafactories shut down

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While Tesla CEO Elon Musk has minimized the impact of the recent virus pandemic, (Two weeks ago Musk tweeted, “The coronavirus panic is dumb.”), Tesla battery partner Panasonic will cease operations at the Tesla plant near Reno, Nevada.

Panasonic just announced that it would send home about 3,500 Reno factory workers for two weeks beginning early next week — with pay and benefits, according to The Reno Gazette Journal. The Panasonic move impacts the battery line, while Tesla workers at the Reno site continue to build power trains for the Model 3, for the time being.

Last month, Tesla and Panasonic scrapped their partnership in building solar cells “after years of struggling to ramp up output at the Gigafactory 2 in upstate New York.”

While Musk has been reluctant to suspend operations in California (saying that he’d be working in Fremont) the state is under lockdown, car manufacturing is not considered an essential service, and Tesla will stop work at the Fremont, California factory on March 23.

Tesla’s statement: “We have decided to temporarily suspend production at our factory in Fremont, from end of day March 23, which will allow an orderly shutdown.  Basic operations will continue in order to support our vehicle and energy service operations and charging infrastructure…Our factory in New York will temporarily suspend production as well, except for those parts and supplies necessary for service, infrastructure and critical supply chains. Operations of our other facilities will continue, including Nevada and our service and Supercharging network.”

For now, the Nevada factory is open for business.

Musk’s most recent release notes, “In many locations, we are in the process of implementing ‘touchless deliveries’ so customers can continue to take delivery of their vehicle in a seamless and safe way.”

Musk reassures investors, “Our cash position at the end of Q4 2019 was $6.3B before our recent $2.3B capital raise. We believe this level of liquidity is sufficient to successfully navigate an extended period of uncertainty. At the end of Q4 2019, we had available credit lines worth approximately $3B including working capital lines for all regions as well as financing for the expansion of our Shanghai factory.”