Tesla Suspends Manufacturing at Chinese Gigafactory

Tesla suspended manufacturing at Gigafactory Shanghai for a week amid the region’s response to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Shanghai implemented a two-stage lockdown to handle the surge.

Tesla had planned to resume manufacturing on Friday but decided to wait an additional couple of days. Shanghai has not yet approved Tesla’s trucks to deliver vehicles to deliver vehicles to the western part of the city. Officials have locked down the parts of the city west of the river. Tesla employees in Shanghai may be impacted by lockdowns of housing complexes in that part of the city, which would make it difficult for them to report to work.

Tesla relies on Gigafactory Shanghai to manufacture Model 3 and Model Y vehicles for the Chinese and European markets. German regulators recently approved the opening of Gigafactory Berlin, which will likely reduce Tesla’s reliance on the Chinese Gigafactory for exports to the European market.

CEO Elon Musk was recently seen dancing during Gigafactory Berlin’s grand opening. His celebratory mood may be justified, considering that regulatory red tape and challenges from environmentalists (along with one case of arson) caused months of delays in the Gigafactory’s opening.

Elon Musk previously fought back against California’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it overly authoritarian. Tesla has factories in the Fremont area but moved its headquarters to Texas. The company is also building a Gigafactory in the Austin area, where it will eventually manufacture the Cybertruck and Tesla Semi. Several corporations like Walmart Canada have place large pre-orders for Tesla Semis as part of their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

Musk also moved to Texas and sold his homes in California, though he expressed reluctance to part with a home formerly belonging to actor Gene Wilder.

Musk himself caught COVID-19 twice, though with his most recent infection, he says it’s a mild case. The first time, he questioned the reliability of the “fast” version of the test. Some SpaceX employees have also reportedly caught COVID-19.

California has since declared Tesla an essential business whose factories can remain open. Tesla is currently building a battery manufacturing factory in the Fremont area.

Tesla is taking a different approach in China, saying only that it will cooperate with its COVID-19 policies. It hasn’t said exactly when it will resume manufacturing at Gigafactory Shanghai.

The Chinese government previously banned Tesla vehicle owners from parking their vehicles at government facilities over espionage concerns despite Tesla’s denial that its cameras are active in the country. Tesla built a datacenter in China to address some of the government’s concerns.

Tesla has floated the possibility of expanding its presence in other Asian countries like India, where it considered building factories to get around taxes on the import of electric vehicles. Auto parts manufacturers in India have requested that Tesla consider sourcing its parts in the country if it does. This could further reduce Tesla’s reliance on China for manufacturing vehicles for the international market.