Fresh Thinking: Tesla’s Europe push, CAR+ November 2015

Published: 24 September 2015

► Tesla push for the European market
► Assembly plant in Netherlands doubles
► 20K+ EV Tesla’s to be built a year 

A European car plant: so what?

Ah yes, but Tesla’s assembly facility in Tilburg, the Netherlands, has doubled in size to make 20,000+ pure electric Teslas a year – not far off half the 58k EVs sold in Europe in 2014. 

Wow. Has it sparked a supply chain and lots of jobs?

Not yet: unlike old-school car plants, there’s no stamping or paint shop: the Model S cars arrive fully-built, four to a container, though with drivetrains removed for safety.
The 90 employees fit the battery, motor and rear axle, and make quality checks.

Sounds clunky: won’t it cause a bottleneck at HQ?

Tesla’s Californian factory used to build 500,000 cars for GM/Toyota, ten times Tesla’s Model S output last year. ‘Long-term it makes sense to localise production, then you address the foreign exchange risk, and it’s logistically better,’ says boss Elon Musk. ‘When we hit the US ceiling, our Europe factory will start local production.’ 

Bet there’s some cool tech on show? 

Sure is: each car glides around on an automated dolly, and with zero emissions to worry about, the Teslas can hit nearly 70mph on an indoor test track. Neat. 

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine