It’s been a long build-up to the launch of the Tesla Model X, but it appears the all-electric SUV is almost here. Bloomberg reports Tesla’s Fremont, Calif. assembly plant will shut down for the first time since opening to retool ahead of Model X production.
As we previously reported, Model X production was delayed so Tesla could keep up with demand for the Model S in 2013. Work on the factory began Monday, with production set to resume in two weeks. The floor will be reconfigured toward the goal of boosting production by 25 percent, adding 25 new assembly robots as part of a $100 million upgrade. The robots will handle bodies and general assembly of both Tesla models.
“This represents the single biggest investment in the plant since we really started operations and enables us for higher volumes,” Tesla spokesman Simon Sproule said to Bloomberg. “It gets us ready to build [Model X] and to do it on the same line as the S.”
While the factory gets retooled, workers can take vacation time or continue coming to work for maintenance and training shifts. The retooling will aid in CEO Elon Musk’s mission to deliver at least 35,000 Model S sedans globally this year — an increase of roughly 56 percent compared to 2013. Shipments to China and other markets will lead that sales boost, supported by a ramp-up in production from the current 800 units per week to 1000 units later this year. The Fremont plant expansion will be followed by Tesla’s Gigafactory, which will produce lithium-ion battery packs for Tesla and other automakers, and eventually cut battery pack costs by at least 30 percent.