Tesla seeing problems at Fremont plant, Ford wants to be greener than Toyota in hybrid sales

Chaotic conditions at Fremont plant:  Tesla appears to be experiencing what CEO Elon Musk last year called “manufacturing hell” at its Fremont, Calif., assembly plant as pressure mounts to increase Model 3 production. CNBC reported Wednesday that a current Tesla engineer estimated that 40% of parts made or received at the Fremont factory require rework. Sometimes, the parts need to be shipped back out of the plant for rework, and in other cases, vehicles seem to be pulled off the assembly line for repairs before being shipped out. Questions are being raised out how effective Musk has been managing the company through a difficult conversion to a mass market manufacturer. The electric automaker has been seeing other problems come up, including three of its top financial executives leaving recently. News came out earlier this week that the company stopped production in Fremont to adjust equipment that can increase the production rate. Production was reportedly suspended from February 20 to February 24 to make these changes. Some of the problems have also been traced back the Gigafactory battery plant near Reno, Nev. But most of the problems seem to be coming from the Fremont plant.

Maven bringing out shared GM vehicles:  General Motors will be launching a pilot project this summer that will enable GM vehicle owners to rent out their vehicles when they aren’t using them. Testing will start this summer through the automaker’s Maven car-sharing unit, said people familiar with the matter. They’ll be able to have their vehicles available on Maven’s platform. Other drivers can rent out the car and will share their revenue with GM. It could be ideal for Uber and Lyft drivers who need a car to carry passengers and generate income. Maven customers could use the borrowed cars for typical car-sharing purposes, such as driving to work or going out to buy groceries or pick up their kids at school. It’s one of several moves GM is taking to become a major mobility service company.

Tesla opening burger joint in Santa Monica:  Tesla will be opening up a what CEO Musk had tweeted about – “an old school drive-in, roller skates & rock restaurant” in the Los Angeles area where customers could grab a meal while their electric cars are being charged. The electric carmaker has applied for permits to build the restaurant and to place chargers outside the building in Santa Monica. If granted approval, Tesla will open up the burger joint at 1401 Santa Monica Blvd., which is currently being operated as a used-car lot. Tesla had already tried something similar last year by adding a “lounge” with a coffee shop at its Supercharger station in Kettleman City, near Bakersfield, Calif. The company is working at winning back disappointed customers who had complained they had nothing to do while their Tesla Model S, X, or 3, was being charged.

Ford wants to be hybrid vehicle leader:  Ford Motor Co. wants to become known as an even greener carmaker than Toyota in the next few years. Ford wants to beat Toyota as the top seller of hybrid vehicles in the U.S. in three years. Other plans include bringing in two off-road SUVs and creating hybrid or electric version of its other utility vehicles. It will eventually make up seven out of eight Ford vehicles sold each year starting in 2020, the company said.

“We’re moving past hybrids as a science project,” Jim Farley, Ford’s president of global markets, told reporters. ”They’re an accepted, reliable technology, and we want to make them as emotional and valuable as the desirable EcoBoost.”

Light-duty trucks – pickups, utility vehicles, and vans – will make up 86% of its sales by 2020, up from about 70% today, the company said. The company will be offering a hybrid variant – traditional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, or both – with every new utility it adds or refreshes from now on.

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