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Tesla’s upcoming Gigafactories to be ‘close to the end customer’ and have ‘very high headcount’, says Elon Musk

Since Tesla confirmed its intention to announce locations for 3 to 4 more upcoming Gigafactories to produce batteries and electric vehicles, a lot of regions have been very excited about to potential opportunities.

While CEO Elon Musk was asked a few times to confirm where those new factories will be located and he refused, he now disclosed that they will be ‘close to the end customer’ and have ‘very high headcount’ around the factories.

With all Tesla’s talk about automation, “alien dreadnought factories”, and increasing the velocity of its production lines, some were worried that Tesla’s next Gigafactories wouldn’t be as important as a job creator as the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada or Tesla Fremont, where Tesla employs or plan to employ about 10,000 workers at each location.

But Musk has been reinforcing the idea that even if automation becomes a more important part of the automaker’s manufacturing process, there will still be plenty to do for employees – they will simply not be doing repetitive tasks.

He said on Twitter yesterday that the upcoming Gigafactory locations will need a “very high headcount”:

Tesla’s current production lines in Fremont are still labor intensive for the Model S and X production lines, and while the Model 3 is expected to feature more automation, it will apparently be nothing close to what Musk has in mind for the “alien dreadnought factories”.

Last month, Musk said that the first version of that will be for the Model Y production line. The vehicle will be built on a new platform that will be designed to enable even more automation.

On those lines, Musk previously said that workers wouldn’t even be able to keep up with the speed of production, but they would still be needed for engineering, support, planning, maintenance, and especially software.

He believes manufacturing software could be Tesla’s differentiating factor going forward:

“The set of steps necessary to achieve that outcome seems pretty obvious and heavily involve Tesla getting incredibly good at the machine that builds the machine — which involves, by the way, a tremendous amount of software. This is — it’s not just a bunch of robots sort of sitting there, it’s the programming of the robots and how they interact. And it’s far more complex than the software in the car. I mean, I think this is just going to be a very difficult thing for other manufacturers to copy. I probably wouldn’t know what to do if I were in that position.”

Tesla has also been hinting that its next Gigafactory would produce everything from the battery cells to complete vehicles.

A lot of countries are courting Tesla to get one of those new factories. Musk previously hinted that the US could get a second Gigafactory, or a third if you count ‘Gigafactory 2’ in Buffalo which produces solar products, and that a tristate border is a possibility.

One of the new locations is expected to be in China, where Musk recently met with the Vice Premier. Another is expected to be somewhere in Europe, where several countries already launched efforts to attract Tesla and the thousands of jobs associated with a Gigafactory.

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