Tesla Responds To The Drive's Concerns About Air Quality Compliance

Tesla says It is proactive in self-reporting deviations and that emissions are “well below allowable levels.”

According to a report in The Drive, Tesla’s Fremont factory has seen an increase in issues with equipment and higher emissions since the launch of the Tesla Model 3. Over the past two years, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) has recorded an increase in the number of variations at the facility, especially in the paint shop.

But after InsideEVs looked into the same documents and additional history of the factory, we came away with several questions that were not addressed in the original piece. So we reached out to Tesla for a response. 

More About The Tesla Model 3 Production Ramp

The Drive says maintenance records for key systems were found to be inadequate. Major issues occurred due to a failure to properly test an E-Scrub system used for particulate matter in the paint shop. This apparently resulted in the plant being shut down in May of 2018 while a new filter house system was installed. The publication also states Tesla on several occasions installed and operated equipment before obtaining the proper permits required by the district. 

So what is the reason for these and other deviations? The author of the piece, Edward Niedermeyer, speculates that the rapid ramp up in Model 3 production meant the automaker may have cut corners or overlooked important procedures during the worst part of the company’s “production hell.” 

As the name implies, the primary goals of BAAQMD are to reduce air pollution, maintain air quality, reduce emissions and make sure that the Bay Area is complying with federal, state, and local laws.

But according to a report referred to by The Drive on the effectiveness of the BAAQMD, the regulatory agency is often very slow to approve permit applications and even slower to hand out fines for deviations or violations. When the agency does fine, it is usually a pittance compared to the lost revenue had a company waited on final approval. As a result, many companies make the calculated decision to make changes or resolve problems immediately and get approval after the fact. Niedermeyer’s piece suggests that this practice is not uncommon.