Tesla is calling some California plant workers back this week

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The Fremont plant builds every vehicle currently in Tesla’s lineup — the Model Y, 3, X and S — and last produced cars on March 23. Analysts at Credit Suisse estimate that the factory’s shutdown has been driving about $300 million of cash burn per week.

When Tesla was resisting calls to idle the factory last month, Fremont officials sought clarification from Alameda County as to whether the company was an essential business. Erica Pan, the county’s health officer, considered the plant to be a public health risk, according to documents obtained through a California public-records request.

Debate over how soon it will be safe for auto companies to reopen their factories is now dividing the industry. While carmakers including Volkswagen Group, Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. have said they intend to restart operations in early May, the UAW has said that’s too soon and too risky for its members, who work for General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and other manufacturers.

In Canada, Unifor President Jerry Dias has been “cautiously optimistic” some production could resume in early May, but emphasized on Saturday that the decision to return to work would be made at the local level, and that worried workers shouldn’t be forced to return to plants if they feel at risk.

There also are questions about the readiness of the North American supply chain. For automakers to resume production, suppliers theoretically must begin manufacturing parts and components a few days ahead of their customers to ensure timely deliveries.

This uncertainty has created confusion throughout the supply chains as plans to resume production conflict with stay-at-home orders in Michigan and other states.

Last week French supplier Faurecia originally planned to resume parts production in Saline, Mich., for Tesla, on Monday, April 27, even though Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s state-at-home orders remained in effect.  The company has since pushed back its restart date twice until at least May 16, Automotive News has learned.

Automotive News contributed to this report.

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Saurabh Shukla

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