Tesla will not become a Toyota clone, says vice president of manufacturing

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 25, 2010

Gilbert Passin, Tesla's vice president of manufacturing, said that acquiring the NUMMI auto plant will make his job a lot easier. Passin is known for having led the way for Tesla Motors to go into mass production but despite this direction, he will still do things the Tesla way (not Toyota's).

In an interview with Automotive News, Passin said that Toyota's production system is a very good base but that he is focused on innovations to make the factory greener, safer, and cleaner. He also plans to use other best practices to make it a superior factory.

Last May, Tesla acquired New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. in Fremont, Calif., from Toyota Motor Corp. as part of a new partnership between the two companies.

Passin is a former NUMMI manager who was recruited in February to turn Tesla from a maker of low-volume $110,000 electric sports cars into a producer of electric family sedans.

Previously, he also served as a manufacturing manager at Toyota's assembly subsidiary in Cambridge, Ontario -- the only factory outside of Japan that produces Lexus vehicles.

It's impressive how Passin doesn´t simply utilize Toyota's practices at NUMMI but also develop new practices and systems."We don't like to call the plant 'NUMMI' any more," Passin said. "We call it the Tesla manufacturing site."

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