Recently, the shortest delivery time of all models of Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y in China has been shortened to one week, which is inseparable from the increase in production capacity of the company’s Shanghai Gigafactory. However, although the young people working in the factory have relatively higher wages, a tight production pace leads to a higher turnover.
The workshops of stamping, welding, painting, final assembly, battery, motor, as well as logistics posts in the factory, have attracted a large number of front-line workers. A former employee who worked in the factory’s final assembly shop told Chinese media outlet Times News, “Most workers here are young people.”
“I’m going to work here until September to get my quarterly bonus,” said one worker in the final assembly shop. They added, “I’ve been working here for a year and a half, and my main job is to screw together the body of the car. The work in this shop is pretty much the hardest. Though I can take a 10-minute break every two hours, my hands are numb at the end of the day.”
Most workers need to work four-day night shifts after four days of day shifts at the factory. Some employees have said, “In the electronics factory I have been working before, the interval between day shift and night shift is three months, which gave me enough time to adapt, but I really can’t endure the work at Tesla due to poor health.”
The final assembly workshop needs the most number of people, which leads to a high turnover rate. Tesla insiders said this is a normal personnel change. By the first half of this year, the entire factory had nearly 20,000 employees, according to a 36Kr report, citing front-line workers at Tesla. Since September 2021, when the second assembly line was divided into three shifts, workers on the line have been replaced on a quarterly basis. “It’s all because of the high production requirements. Everyone keeps their chin up until receiving their quarterly bonus,” one worker said.
Some jobs may be physically demanding. In the online recruitment of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory, it will be directly stated that the applicant needs to be between 18 and 35 years old.
Young people choose to work at Tesla’s factory due to the EV maker’s technology advantages, notably Elon Musk’s personality, charm and a good salary. Unlike other automakers’ factories, Tesla offers workers’ lunches, but no free accommodation, 36Kr reported. The basic monthly salary for a regular worker on Tesla’s production line is 5,341 yuan ($750). If he or she has a bachelor’s degree, the salary will be increased by 200 yuan. Their annual salary will exceed 100,000 yuan if various subsidies and quarterly bonuses are counted.
“People believe that our monthly salary is about 10,000 yuan. In fact, our basic salary is just 7,000 yuan and the company will pay our insurance and accumulation fund for about 3,000 yuan. Working in other automaker’s factory won’t get insurance and accumulation fund,” said an employee.
Tesla offers quarterly bonuses to employees at its Shanghai plant based on different performance ratings. The quarterly award is divided into five grades, from A to E. The highest is 1.5 times of the monthly basic salary, but most workers can only get a C which amounts to one month’s basic salary. Mistakes at work will cause fewer points, which means fewer quarterly bonuses.
In the face of huge market demand, capacity expansion is Tesla’s top priority. Tesla China is expected to deliver more than 100,000 electric vehicles in September, which would be a new record, according to Troy Teslike, who specializes in tracking Tesla deliveries and other data analytics. Teslike has also said that, as of August 31, Tesla has estimated its order backlog to be about 414,000 vehicles, equivalent to about 102 days of its production.
Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory had a production capacity of 484,100 vehicles last year, accounting for about 51 percent of Tesla’s total sales. According to Tesla’s second-quarter financial results released in July, the Shanghai plant has an annual capacity of more than 750,000 vehicles, making it Tesla’s most productive gigafactory. The production line optimization project of the second phase of Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory was completed and started commissioning on September 1, and the check period is expected to be from September 1 to November 30.