Tesla's Fremont factory workforce could be former NUMMI plant's highest ever

Tesla plans to employ more people in Fremont than during the plant's 1979 peak.

If Tesla Motors has its way, the citizens of Fremont economy may want to party like it's 1979. That was the year General Motors had its peak employment level at its automobile factory in the city that's about 40 miles southeast of San Francisco. Tesla could soon leapfrog that number, Silicon Beat says. So break out the bell-bottoms.

The California-based electric vehicle maker is ramping up production for its more moderately priced Model 3. With that in mind, Tesla has filed an application with the city of Fremont to almost double the size of its factory to about 10 million square feet. More importantly, Tesla, which employs about 6,200 workers at the plant, looks to expand that workforce total to about 9,300. That's almost double the 4,700 that the former the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) factory had when it shuttered the factory in 2010, and almost a 40 percent increase over the 6,800 people GM employed at its 1979 peak. NUMMI was a joint-venture between GM and Toyota, and the Chevrolet Nova and Prizm, and the Toyota Corolla and Tacoma were among the models produced at the Fremont factory. Tesla hasn't provided a timetable for when it will enlarge the property.

Such an expansion would mark additional momentum for the manufacturing sector in Northern California's East Bay region. Within the past six years, the region's number of manufacturing jobs has jumped 13 percent to almost 87,000. Tesla is also building out its Gigafactory near Reno, Nevada and is looking to expand its annual vehicle production to 500,000 units by 2018. The company unveiled a prototype of the Model 3 in April.

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