Tesla is currently using the old General Motors/Toyota NUMMI facility in California for Model S production, and despite the brand's rapid growth, it's still not coming close to approaching the full 500,000-unit production capacity of that former facility. Still, the EV manufacturer is shopping around for both European and Asian production facilities in anticipation of bountiful increases in sales.

While we'd caution that this counting of chickens isn't the best idea, Tesla has just cause for planning ahead. According to Automotive News, Model S production should crest at 21,000 units by the end of 2013, and 40,000 units by the end of 2014. It'll soon be joined at the Fremont, California factory by the Model X SUV, along with the rumored Model E, which will occupy a volume position for the brand below the Model S. And while the old NUMMI facility might have production capacity for far more vehicles than Tesla can build, churning three separate vehicles out of the same factory might not be as economically viable as just picking up a new factory altogether.

While Musk won't come out and say it, if his logistical predictions are any indication, it's a safe bet that he sees Model E becoming the big-selling model for Tesla. Speaking to Bloomberg, he said, "We'll try to locate those close to where people are, close to where the customers are, to minimize the logistics costs of getting the car to them."

It remains unclear if, or more likely, when Tesla will make any acquisitions in Europe or Asia. It's already operating a small facility in the Netherlands that's completing Model S models using parts shipped over from California, but a larger-scale facility for the Model E probably won't happen for another few years, which is in line with Musk's prediction that the new vehicle would hit the market "within five years." Stay tuned.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 71 Comments
      Val
      • 1 Year Ago
      You might as well stop saying the plant has a capacity of 500 000 cars, it prodiced that many toyotas, but it has no tooling that is just standing there waiting for the new cars. It has the area, and nothing else. The documentary on discovery showed mostly empty dark hangars.
        Val
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Val
        This is in no way different than what I am saying, and what Gilbert Passin was saying, that huge areas of the factory are mothballed and some parts will be used to make the affordable GenIII model. But they still need to buy the tooling for that.
        m_2012
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Val
        That was what, 2 years ago. Go visit today. While a lot is empty, what is not is highly impressive.
      Baldur Norddahl
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nissan are building the Leaf three places in the world. In the long run Tesla will need to do the same. It is too expensive to pay import tax on your cars and expensive shipping, plus long lead times because the customer has to wait for the car to be transported by ship. When your competition produces locally, you will eventually have to do the same. The Model S is significantly more expensive in Europa than US. That needs to be fixed. This will never be about building the car outside US for import into US. It is about producing cars for Europe in Europa, cars for Asia in Asia and cars for america in the US right where they are doing it now. Of course you need to be a high volume player to pull that off. Limited volume cars may only be produced at one factory for the world. But Tesla is not satisfied with being a limited volume car producer. It has always been their plan to move on from that.
      johnb
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ni Hao Ma
      schizzle
      • 1 Year Ago
      Build it anywhere but China. Otherwise, Tesla will find itself competing against Tesla clones within a year. What's wrong with expanding production to other employment at-will states in the U.S.?
      bK
      • 1 Year Ago
      Anywhere but China, I know your better than that Elon Musk.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Even his little chair has a Tesla logo on it.
      John
      • 1 Year Ago
      That didn't take long....
      Narom
      • 1 Year Ago
      Soon followed by all of it being overseas...
        methos1999
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Narom
        GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW, VW would all disagree with you as they all have plants in the US. Reality is that shipping cars overseas is expensive because you have to tack on fuel costs for shipping. This is one reason Mazda is hurting because ALL their cars bound for the US are built in Japan. Meanwhile, the Nissan Leaf had a huge price drop partially due to the opening of the Smyrna TN plant. The manufacturing stuff that has largely gone overseas are items that require a lot of manual labor with low skill - hence whey so many electronics are overseas.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Narom
        [blocked]
          lordedardstark1
          • 1 Year Ago
          I'm pretty sure that's not how it works...
          The Wasp
          • 1 Year Ago
          lordedardstark1 is correct. The handful of people working at/around the former NUMMI plant don't win -- but everyone else does.
          Cayman
          • 1 Year Ago
          The next frontier? Isn't that the frontier that started 50 years ago?
        Val
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Narom
        So japanese, korean, german companies open plants in the US to satisfy demand on the largest (or second largest) car market in the world, with BMW and Mercedes even exporting cars back to germany, but Tesla will, for some unknown reason, abandon it's fully equipped factory, and the trained workforce, to go and make cars it vietnam or china, and then have them shipped with a 2 month delay to the US. Brilliant!
          DRAGON
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Val
          No, they want to open factories away to sell on local markets and avoid the unnecessary shipping costs and delays.
      Rico Suave
      • 1 Year Ago
      Musk is just fishing to see if anyone is willing to throw money at him in order to get a Tesla production facility.
      Street King
      • 1 Year Ago
      Flex manufacturing is where it's at because its extremely cost effective. That means fully utilize your currently underutilized California plant by building all of your cars there until its at capacity. Only when its maxed out on 3 shifts should you start looking to build a new plant elsewhere. New plants are a huge commitment. Look at Jeep for example, building Wranglers and Grand Cherokees full tilt on 3 shifts, they cannot build enough of them, everyone is working overtime and the suppliers are being whipped for more components that now they are running at full steam and Chrysler keeps asking for more. Do they build a new plant or even fire up an old one? Nope, too risky. And now you have Musk running his on one shift and he's looking to open more? Uhhhh....OK. You can tell that guy hasn't been in the auto industry for long lol.
        ElectricAvenue
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        The plant is empty. It costs a lot of money to put in a production line, whether it's in an empty building or a new building elsewhere. The counterpoint to your argument that all production should be in the U.S. is stated in many of the responses here; for a variety of reasons it makes sense to build cars for European markets in Europe, for Asian markets in Asia, etc.
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      I've been writing my lawmakers on Tesla's part, but a foreign made Model anything (to be sold in America) will NOT have my support. I've supported the Model S because its supporting America with jobs and green alternatives. I however will not support Tesla's efforts to become more profitable by underpaying foreigners to build its premium car to sell in America. Tesla should be able to sell its cars in other nations produced by those factories in said nation, but if Tesla wants cheap labor costs for its American sold cars, I won't be supporting the makers efforts any longer. They transform into another maker unpaying foreigners to sell the cars in America, they would be like any other maker taking American dollars for cheap foreign labor. A business model that only hurts America further.
      fffffffffffffff
      • 1 Year Ago
      What is the big surprise. Tesla, took the Obama cash, will wait out their deal in Fremont and then move to someplace that is half the costs as California. Unless of course the Pols keep coming up with more program money.
        Technoir
        • 1 Year Ago
        @fffffffffffffff
        What a profoundly stupid comment. Global automakers sell cars in many countries, and have factories in many countries. Or do you prefer Tesla to exclusively produce in the U.S. and live off of 20,000 units sold per year? How stupid are you?
        m_2012
        • 1 Year Ago
        @fffffffffffffff
        Ignorant statement. Please read more about it. They did not take any cash. The OWN the Fremonet facility outright. They took out a LOAN and PAID IT BACK IN FULL years EARLY with interest (to the tune of like $9 million). They are the only US manufacturer NOT to OWE the government money.
    • Load More Comments