Tesla plans to drastically reduce staffing at its Nevada Gigafactory due to the coronavirus crisis, the local county manager said on Thursday. “Tesla has informed us that the Gigafactory in Storey County is reducing on-site staff by roughly 75% in the coming days,” Austin Osborne said in a post on the county’s web site.
A week ago, battery partner Panasonic said it would pull its 3,500 employees from the Gigafactory for 14 days.
Meanwhile, Tesla is speeding ahead with plans to manufacture medical ventilators at its solar roof tile factory in Buffalo, New York. “Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible,” Elon Musk tweeted. “We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.”
Tesla will be making the ventilators in partnership with medical device manufacturer Medtronic. “We’re opening up with other partners who’ve come forward,” Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak said in an interview with CNBC. “Tesla is one that I think people have heard about. One of our ventilators will be made by them, and they’re fast on track to try to make them.”
The emphasis is on getting ventilators into production as quickly as possible. Tesla will build ventilators based on Medtronic’s established design rather than trying to design one from scratch, because high reliability is critical, and because new designs would require FDA approval, which would consume valuable time.
Ishrak added that Medtronic will open-source one of its lower-end ventilators, which are easier to produce because there are fewer components, so that others can build them as quickly as possible.