Tesla to reduce on-site staff at Nevada gigafactory by 75%

Tesla is reducing the number of on-site workers at its Nevada gigafactory by 75% in response to the growing spread of COVID-19, according to an update from Storey County, where the massive plant is located.

The information, which was first reported by Bloomberg, was part of a larger update on the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center and its response to COVID-19, a disease caused by the coronavirus. The privately owned 107,000-acre industrial park, known as TRIC, is home to the Tesla gigafactory, Google and Switch, as well as a Walmart distribution center and PetSmart.

Tesla could not be reached for comment.

Companies in TRIC are taking COVID-19 seriously and are regularly reporting measures being taken to adhere to the established guidelines while maintaining essential operations, Storey County Manager Austin Osborne said in the letter posted on the county’s website. Those measures include checking employee temperatures, creating central access, allowing remote work and creating distance between work stations.

Tesla’s decision to reduce staff follows a move by its gigafactory partner Panasonic to pull all 3,500 of its employees from the site over concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Panasonic said March 20 that it would ramp down operations this week and then close for 14 days. That move only affected Panasonic employees. Tesla also employs thousands of workers at the so-called Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, Nev.

Gigafactory 1, which broke ground in June 2014, is a critical ingredient in Tesla’s goal to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by expanding global battery capacity and reducing the cost of electric vehicles. And Panasonic has been its most important partner as a supplier and partner in that project.

The factory produces Model 3 electric motors and battery packs, in addition to Tesla’s energy storage products, Powerwall and Powerpack. Panasonic makes the cells, which Tesla then uses to make battery packs for its electric vehicles.

Tesla has several factories in the U.S., including in Fremont, Calif., where it produces the Model X, Model S, Model 3 and now the Model Y. Tesla has reduced staff at the Fremont plant from more than 10,000 workers to about 2,500.

Earlier this week, the company sent out an email informing workers that two Tesla employees had tested positive for COVID-19. The internal email, which was viewed by TechCrunch, didn’t indicate where these employees worked.

Tesla employs more than 48,000 people at locations throughout the U.S. These two employees had been working at home for nearly two weeks, according to the email. The employees were not symptomatic in the office, and both are quarantined at home and recovering well, according to the email from Tesla’s EHS department head Laurie Shelby.