Elon Musk Puts Production Operation at Tesla’s Fremont Factory under New ManagementJuly 3, 2020
Elon Musk, CEO and founder of SpaceX and Tesla, has put a new person in charge of the recently reopened Tesla factory in Fremont, California. This was after he defied local regulations and went ahead to reopen the factory. The new head of production, Richard Miller, was previously the head of paint operations at the Fremont factory. Employees were notified of Miller’s appointment by Musk through an internal email sent to them on Monday. Miller was named productions head, replacing the former manufacturing director Jatinder Dhillon who was reported by CNBC to have left the company. However, Dhillon’s LinkedIn profile indicates he still holds the same role in the company.
According to the email, which was viewed by TechCrunch, Musk decided to promote Richard Miller as Head of Fremont production after performing exceptionally well as head of paint operations in the same factory. Elon Musk went ahead to congratulate Miller for the promotion, which came at a quite chaotic time for the company. Due to stay-at-home orders by Alameda County’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, the orders suspended production operations at the Fremont factory where Tesla’s electric vehicles are assembled. The suspension was effected as from march 23rd.
However, Musk directly defied orders and restarted production. The company had initially planned to bring back about a third of its workers on May 8th. This was in line with its reopening plans which were to follow the county’s guidance on how manufacturers should resume productions. In the Governor’s guidance, there was a warning that the county of Alameda and other local governments could maintain more restrictive rules. Through the end of May, Gov. Newsom and other Bay Area county governments extended the stay-at-home orders, citing an increase in infection rates in the country. Even though some restrictions were eased after the orders were revised, the suspension of manufacturing operations was not lifted.
Ever since the extension of the order, Musk has been at war with Alameda County, specifically aiming his discontent at health officials. Elon threatened to pull out production operations from the county and file a lawsuit. Later that day, the carmaker filed a lawsuit against Alameda to seek injunctive relief. The following Monday, Musk announced that he had restarted production in Tesla’s Fremont factory. In the tweet, he wrote that he would be on the assembly line at the factory and if any arrests were to be made, he should be the one being taken in. Alameda County responded with a statement acknowledging they were well aware that Tesla had restarted production without meeting the minimum requirements.
The press statement from Alameda County stated that the county government had notified the automaker that they would have to maintain minimum basic operations until an approved plan was available. The statement, sent to TechCrunch further indicated that the county was planning to address the Tesla situation using the same phased approach they applied to other non-compliant businesses in the past. Alameda County hoped that they would not have to escalate the enforcement measures on Tesla. Through the statement, the county indicated that they had continuously worked in good faith with the company to develop an effective plan that would facilitate reopening of the Fremont factory.
The plan, it hoped, would enhance the safety of Tesla’s thousands of employees and their communities. The plan was also to be aligned with local and state requirements. The county stated that they were still in the process of devising such an agreed-upon safety plan with Tesla, which had agreed to adopt steps that would see reopening beyond minimum basic operations. These steps, the statement continued, were inclusive of improved health screening procedures for employees and also engaging the staff working at the assembly line on their concerns. They would also seek to get feedback from the workers regarding the imposed safety protocols. Finally, the county said that it expected the automaker to produce a site-specific plan by the coming Monday as a fulfilment of the regulations issued on May 7TH by the state of California.