(May 6): Tesla Inc is making plans to resume double shifts at its factory in Shanghai as soon as mid-May as it expects staffing and parts shortages to ease, according to people familiar with the matter.
The US electric carmaker’s China factory was shuttered for three weeks in April as Shanghai was plunged into lockdown in an attempt to halt community spread of Covid-19. The plant started up again in late April under a so-called closed loop system whereby workers live on site and are tested regularly. The workers in that system have been doing 12-hour shifts, six days a week.
Now Tesla is aiming to bring back more employees to keep factory lines running around the clock, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified because the details are private. Prior to the pandemic-inducted halt on March 28, Tesla workers in Shanghai were working three shifts covering 24 hours, seven days a week.
The Shanghai factory’s management committee is trying to determine how feasible it is to bring more workers back, canvassing the willingness of staff to leave their residential compounds and collating address information to get a better picture of where in the city people are located, the people said.
Executives are also looking at daily door-to-door shuttle buses that would allow some workers to return home after their shift rather than sleep at the factory, they said.
A Tesla representative said there were no further updates as yet regarding the factory’s status.
In the meantime, Tesla’s Shanghai factory, which in regular times pumps out around 2,100 cars a day, remains challenged by component shortages. Tesla only has an inventory for just over two weeks based on its current closed-loop schedule, another person familiar with the matter said last month, and logistics are a major problem for many other parts.
The company’s China website shows new customers can expect a wait time of between 20 to 24 weeks for a Model 3, up from around four to six weeks normally.
Shanghai reported 4,024 local asymptomatic Covid-19 cases and 245 confirmed infections on Thursday (May 5). While cases have been coming down, the city has said it will continue to mass test citizens and only lift the lockdown once community transmission reaches zero.
While officials are encouraging firms to restart production — China said last month it will give assistance to more than 600 selected companies to help restart factory activities — the reality on the ground may be more complex.
Some 63% of Japanese companies that own a plant in Shanghai say they’re still fully halting operations, the Nikkei reported on Friday, citing the Shanghai Japanese Commerce & Industry Club.