Tesla will implement “touchless deliveries” as part of its response to the coronavirus outbreak, it has said in an operational update published on Thursday (US time).
Production at Tesla’s Fremont factory, where the Model 3 and Model Y are made, will be temporarily suspended starting from March 23, as well as in New York with the exception of producing parts and supplies in order to continue providing servicing and infrastructure to customers.
The electric car maker had originally intended staying open amid the crisis, but has done an about turn saying it would cut staff by three-quarters after the Alameda county confirmed that car production is not an essential service as has been the case in previous wartime situations.
Now, Tesla will instead implement “social distancing” for staff members going to work, and take temperatures of staff still working as well as hand out masks, CNBC reported.
It all seems somewhat bleak, as car makers around the globe prepare to shut up shop for a week or more to contain the virus.
“Despite taking all known health precautions, continued operations in certain locations has caused challenges for our employees, their families and our suppliers,” wrote the car maker in its update.
But with the introduction of a novel way of delivering cars still in its inventory the car maker will at least be able to cheer up a multitude of Tesla customers.
Because Tesla is able to connect a customer’s smartphone app to a vehicle allowing them to unlock the vehicle without needing to be handed RFID cards or a key fob, it can simply park the vehicle in a delivery parking lot and then notify the customer it is ready to pick up.
Paperwork will left inside the vehicle, and customers can sign and drop at an on-site spot before leaving the car park.
“Due to the unique over-the-air connectivity of our vehicles, customers are able to unlock their new cars at a delivery parking lot via the Tesla App, sign any remaining relevant paperwork that has been placed in their car, and return that paperwork to an on-site drop-off location prior to leaving,” said Tesla in its update.
Designed to keep both customers and staff safe from further spread of the contagious virus, the move is sensible to say the least. The coronavirus outbreak has now infected more than 200,000 people worldwide, and in the US the situation is rapidly changing on a daily basis.
Tweeting this morning about the response, Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk urged people to stay at home, even if just feeling a little sick.
Anyone feeling even slightly ill should stay home. Elderly should avoid close contact, even with family members, for now. Those seem most important.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 19, 2020
Tesla has also assured investors in its operational update that cash flow is not an issue for the company at this time.
With $US6.3 billion ($A10.97 billion) in hand at the end of 2019 and a $US2.3 billion ($A4 billion) capital raise since, it says it believes “this level of liquidity is sufficient to successfully navigate an extended period of uncertainty”.
“At the end of Q4 2019, we had available credit lines worth approximately $3B including working capital lines for all regions as well as financing for the expansion of our Shanghai factory,” it said.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.