Tesla Gigafactory Nevada leaked audio meeting: new executives, goals

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James Glover II | Reuters

Tesla has shaken up the management of the Gigafactory, its sprawling battery factory outside Reno, Nevada, and is setting new goals for the facility.

Former Gigafactory vice president of operations Chris Lister left Elon Musk’s electric vehicle and clean energy business this summer, and Hrushikesh “Hrushi” Sagar has been promoted to oversee the Gigafactory, according to the report. audio of a Thursday meeting and documents shared with CNBC by people who work at the plant. Sagar reports directly to CEO Elon Musk and will also simultaneously oversee Tesla’s vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California.

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Sagar spoke with a group of hundreds of Gigafactory employees on Thursday afternoon about leadership changes, performance reviews, factory milestones and aggressive new goals for the facility. He also disclosed information about progress at Tesla’s factories in Austin, Texas, and outside of Berlin, Germany.

Sagar briefly addressed Lister’s departure saying, “I really appreciate what Chris Lister has done here, Chris’ contribution. I’m very grateful, like Elon, and Tesla is very grateful, for his contribution, but at the same time, we are now moving on to the next phase.”

Gigafactory workers make batteries and powertrains for Tesla’s electric vehicles, as well as the large backup batteries, Powerwall and Megapack, sold by Tesla’s Energy division.

During the meeting, Sagar celebrated that Tesla made approximately 134,000 cars at its Fremont, Calif. plant in the second quarter of 2022, and said August was one of the record months for Fremont in production terms. The Fremont plant is now able to make about 12,000 cars a week and is aiming for 14,000 a week as its next goal, he said.

He also said that Tesla’s team in Brandenburg, Germany recently achieved a major milestone by being able to produce 1,000 cars on a rolling seven-day basis. Musk recently visited the German factory and the company expects it to ramp up production to make 5,000 cars a week by the end of 2022. Reno was initially sending training units to Germany to contribute to this effort.

Tesla’s new factory in Austin, Texas also hit the production rate of 1,000 per week.

In terms of drive unit production, the Gigafactory produced 283,473 powertrains in Q2 2022 “supplying” the company’s Fremont and Austin factories.

“You all played a very big role,” said Sagar. “I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart,” to the Reno team.

New leaders and goals for the Gigafactory

Before joining Tesla in late 2017, Lister spent 22 years in precision manufacturing roles at PepsiCo. During his tenure at Tesla, the Gigafactory experienced rapid construction and growing pains, including high scrap volumes, fires and oil spills. But by ramping up production there, it also helped propel Tesla to become the top-selling battery-electric vehicle brand in the United States and around the world. Lister and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sagar’s new title, according to his LinkedIn profile, is senior director of vehicle operations and manufacturing engineering.

Sagar told employees on Thursday that they should consider the Fremont plant their “customer,” noting that vehicle production there is successful or hindered based on the volumes and quality of Gigafactory’s shipments.

Although Sagar doesn’t plan to spend most of his time in Reno, he plans to work closely with plant executives, including energy manager Matt Reddick, who joined the company there. is about six months old, and site manager Eric Montgomery, who will be handling things. day to day in Nevada. Other top Gigafactory executives now include Jeff Jackson, who leads the factory’s infrastructure, and Bert Somsin, the factory’s director of human resources.

At the same meeting Thursday, Montgomery told Gigafactory employees they need to achieve steady production of 8,800 high-voltage batteries per week to support Fremont’s new production goals and “maximize all-wheel-drive builds.” He said August 2022 was also the Gigafactory’s second-best month ever for production, just behind October 2021.

Reddick said Tesla can now produce 42 giant Megapack batteries over a rolling seven-day period. Megapacks are roughly the size of a shipping container and are used for large-scale energy storage, often to store excess energy generated by wind or sun.

Tesla is on track to produce 442 megapacks in the third quarter of 2022, which represents an 85% growth over megapack production in the previous three months.

The Gigafactory has also reached and exceeded a production rate of 6,500 Powerwalls per week. Powerwalls are the smallest home-use battery backups that CEO Elon Musk recently promoted on Twitter amid a massive heat wave in California. The heat wave threatened power outages and prompted the state to urge residents to reduce their electricity use during peak hours.

Tesla previously required customers who wanted to buy a Powerwall to also buy a solar roof from the company. The Nevada Gigafactory manufactured 37,600 Powerwalls in the second quarter, Montgomery said, and said the facility was on track to increase that figure by 22% in the third quarter.

As for the facility itself, Jackson touted a new advanced water treatment facility that Tesla is building onsite.

“It’s going to eliminate the discharge of process water from our site, or waste water, and it’s going to allow 98% water recycling and evaporation,” he said. “It’s a huge thing, it’s aligned with our mission.”

Jackson also gave an update on the Gigafactory’s solar rooftop. “Right now we have about eight megawatts on the roof that we can use daily, which is really exciting,” the infrastructure leader said.

Tesla also has a new on-site food vendor providing poke bowls, building a meditation room for employees, improving roads and installing more EV chargers along roads around the facility.

On the human resources front, workers have been urged to reduce the number of man-hours needed to produce a single unit of the products they build in their teams and to file more “takeover” notices on how to improve safety and reduce costs around the plant.

The company is moving past the severe workforce reductions that took place in the second quarter of this year and is in the midst of an extensive performance review process, Sagar said.

An employee asked management if his equity grants would be tied to company milestones this year, and management said no. But HR teams and managers are still determining who may be eligible for promotions, raises and bonuses. Sagar said that by the end of September, managers should discuss their performance reviews with their teams.

Employees asked management to discuss if and where Tesla’s next factory could be built. Tesla’s lobbying activities in Canada and the company’s investments in the North have already sparked speculation of a Canadian-based factory.

Sagar said, “I have an idea about the contestants, but I don’t think I’m free right now to disclose those contestants because of the confidentiality of some of these things.” He offered, “There is an exciting future for North America and all around the Americas.”

Luz W. German