Tesla purchase: It turns to German engineers for manufacturing expertise

Tesla has a lot of outstanding vehicle orders — perhaps as many as 400,000 for its yet-to-be released Model 3.

For a company facing a giant increase in demand, it needs manufacturing help.

On Tuesday, the electric vehicle maker turned to Germany for expertise, announcing it was acquiring Grohmann Engineering. The German company designs and builds automated manufacturing lines. Its products include robot assembly machines for automakers, telecommunications companies and consumer electronics manufacturers.

CEO Elon Musk has said improving factory performance and speed is a key to the company’s success.

“Accelerating a sustainable energy future is only possible with high-volume factories,” Tesla said in a statement. “They allow us to manufacture high-quality products with economies of scale, making them more affordable and accessible to the world.”

Despite a steady increase in vehicle deliveries, Tesla faces a big jump to meet demand for the Model 3, its $35,000 sedan due in late 2017. Tesla hopes to hit a record 80,000 vehicles produced this year. The company aims to pump out 500,000 vehicles from its Fremont plant in 2018.

Tesla said the acquisition, slated to close in early 2017, would allow the Fremont factory to increase its production and quality while lowering costs. It’s the first phase of its expansion in advanced engineering, and could produce 1,000 jobs in Germany over the next two years. The purchase, whose price was not disclosed, requires approval from regulators.

Tesla submitted plans last month to the city of Fremont to add 4.6 million square feet to the former Toyota NUMMI plant. The build-out would include 11 new buildings and nearly double the size of the factory. The company expects to hire an additional 3,100 workers and bring the factory workforce to 9,300.

Photo: The Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., in January 2016. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)


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