Tesla prepares to reduce staff by 75% at lone U.S. auto plant

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(March 19): Tesla Inc. is preparing to reduce staffing by about 75% at its lone U.S. assembly plant after initially resisting an order from the local sheriff, according to a county spokesman.

“We had a positive conversation, and it sounds like they are beginning to comply with the health order,” said Ray Kelly, the spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. “In war times, all automakers are considered vital national infrastructure, but this is a different era. This is a health pandemic.”

Representatives for Tesla didn’t respond to requests for comment. The company is preparing to reduce staff at its plant in Fremont, California to about 2,500 from roughly 10,000, Kelly said.

Tesla makes the Model 3, S, X and new Model Y at the Fremont plant. The San Francisco Bay Area has implemented stringent measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, ordering more than 7 million residents to stay home except for exercise or quick, necessary outings such as runs to the grocery store.

According to the county’s health order, businesses deemed non-essential are restricted to “minimum basic operations,” which Tesla appeared to define to broadly to include assembly line production activity. As of Wednesday, there are 31 positive cases of Covid-19 in Alameda County.