Tesla's California factory built more cars than any other North American auto plant in 2021

Tesla's California factory built more cars than any other North American auto plant in 2021
A Tesla Model 3 is assembled at the Fremont, California factory in 2018.Mason Trinca/The Washington Post
  • Tesla's US vehicle plant is the most productive car factory in North America, Bloomberg says.
  • Elon Musk's Fremont, California plant cranked out an average of 8,550 cars each week in 2021.

Once a scrappy upstart, Tesla is looking more and more like a long-established automaker every day.

In 2021, the electric carmaker's first major factory in California beat out 70 competing facilities to become the most productive auto plant in North America, according to a recent Bloomberg analysis.

The Fremont, California facility churns out all four Tesla vehicles: the Model S and 3 sedans, along with the Model X and Y SUVs. Last year, the factory spat out an average of 8,550 vehicles each week, or nearly 450,000 units over the course of the year, according to Bloomberg. The other half of Tesla's output came from its factory in Shanghai.

That's more than the 8,427 cars produced weekly at Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky plant and the 8,343 cars per week built at BMW's Spartanburg, South Carolina facility. Ford's most productive plant, Kentucky Truck, produced roughly 7,600 vehicles every seven days in 2021, according to Bloomberg.

Tesla delivered around 936,000 vehicles in total in 2021, millions fewer than behemoths like General Motors, Toyota, and Volkswagen.


Musk wants to squeeze even more production capacity out of Fremont, which is already packed to the gills. In recent years, Tesla has added outdoor tents to expand production lines beyond the confines of the original building, which General Motors erected in the 1960s.

"If you go to our Fremont factory it's jammed," Musk said at Tesla's annual shareholder meeting in October. "Now we're like spam-in-a-can here."

Tesla cranked out nearly twice as many cars in 2021 as it did in 2020. But the company's swift growth and furious pace of production may have sometimes come at the expense of quality. Tesla customers have long griped about ill-fitting body panels and other, more serious issues like trunks that aren't rainproof. Those issues still persist sometimes, even as Tesla has matured.

All automakers occasionally let cars leave the factory with imperfections, and they all issue recalls. But Teslas are premium vehicles, sometimes costing $100,000 or more, and some customers feel that price should buy them higher quality and more attention to detail.

Some relief may come soon for the Fremont plant. Tesla plans to open up two new factories — one in Austin, Texas and one outside of Berlin — this year.