Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tesla Tilburg Netherlands Showroom and European Factory

The Tilburg factory is a 2 hour walk, train, bus and walk in the pouring rain but hey if I'm that close I have to do it.

I walk into the Visitor center at the factory to find that it's not the factory anymore!  It's now a showroom, service center and warehouse since September.  The very helpful man there explained everything and pointed me towards the new factory just down the road.

I walk in more pouring rain to the new building.  This is a massive building, about 200 meters wide and 40 tractor-trailer-loading-bays long.

I walked into the first sliding glass door but it looked like an employee entrance, so I went out and then into the next door which led me into a big visitor room with floor-to-ceiling glass walls looking right into the factory.

The "factory" is what I would call final assembly, about the size of a basketball court, done this way to reduce the taxes payable for fully assembled cars brought into the country for distribution around Europe.  The cars come four to a shipping container, with the wheels bolted onto the hubs so they can roll.  The cars enter what is labelled "General Assembly", riding on a smart cart and they move in an S-shaped work line where the car is grabbed from above with a big claw-like hanger.   The wheels come off, the battery pack is installed, the drivetrain(s) are installed and then the wheels go back on again.  They fill it with windshield washer fluid and then flash the software at which point the car is driveable.  The car is lowered onto another smart cart and makes its way to final inspection for paint and water leakage.  It comes off the cart and goes through an indoor test track about 900m long with bumps designed to make squeaky things squeak.  They then are driven over into the detailing area then parked waiting for shipment though Europe or for local pickup.

All this time, several people walked through the visitor area and nobody seemed to be worried about me with my nose pressed up against the glass.  Finally a young man walked over and introduced himself.  He was the Delivery Specialist, handling about 8 - 10 local pickups every day.  One customer with a new titanium colored Model S drove past me and out the door with a huge smile on his face.  I told my story and we talked for about half an hour.  He then told me it was OK to take pictures through the glass, I said I hadn't up to then because of the no-picture rule in Fremont but he said there are no secrets here, so he took a few pictures of me, then I took a few more.  He then went back to his desk and brought out a stainless steel Tesla pen for me, I'm very thankful for his gift.  Well that was an awesome visit.

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