Tesla will temporarily shut down its car manufacturing plant in Fremont, California, starting at the end of Monday, March 23rd, joining nearly every other major automaker in suspending its US operations due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement comes after days of back-and-forth with the local authorities about whether the company was exempt from a recent shelter-in-place order in the San Francisco Bay Area. Tesla will also suspend most operations at its solar panel factory in Buffalo, New York.
“Despite taking all known health precautions, continued operations in certain locations has caused challenges for our employees, their families and our suppliers,” the company wrote in a press release. “As such, we have decided to temporarily suspend production” at both factories.
Hourly employees at both factories will “continue to receive their normal pay through Monday, after which point we will provide paid leave during suspended operations,” according to an email from the company’s regional HR boss Valerie Workman.
Tesla says it will keep some “basic operations” up and running, like work on its charging infrastructure. The company’s Gigafactory in Nevada will continue as normal, despite a recent initiative from the state’s governor asking all nonessential businesses to close.
Tesla will keep making vehicle deliveries during the shutdown. The company says it is leveraging its app and its cars’ smartphone connectivity to implement “touchless deliveries” in “many locations” to help mitigate any spread of the virus. With the touchless deliveries, “customers are able to unlock their new cars at a delivery parking lot via the Tesla App, sign any remaining relevant paperwork that has been placed in their car, and return that paperwork to an on-site drop-off location prior to leaving,” the company says.
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