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Tesla acquires Grohmann Engineering to launch global industrial automation research centres

Tue 8 Nov 2016

Tesla Motors has acquired German specialist plant machine manufacturer Grohmann Engineering GmbH, the foundation stone in the launch of a new Tesla Advanced Automation headquarters in Germany – and further industrial research centres around the world.

The company announced the agreement to buy on its site, but did not disclose the figures involved in the agreement. The acquisition is subject to approval by German regulators.

Founder Elon Musk said in a phone call about the deal “This will really be our first acquisition of significance in our whole history,” and added “We thought it was important that Tesla become, in part, a German company…That’s what this was all about.”

According to the release Tesla intends to add more than 1,000 advanced engineering and skilled technician roles to its German operations over the next two years. Since the Grohmann acquisition represents the launch of Tesla’s Advanced Automation Headquarters Germany; since the release states that other locations will follow, the company – which retains its principal manufacturing plant in Fremont, California – seems intent on establishing research franchises in a number of other countries.

The Tesla Team’s announcement emphasises that engaging in research in automating industrial process is not merely a means to an end for Tesla:

‘As the machine that builds the machine, our factories are so important that we believe they will ultimately deserve an order of magnitude more attention in engineering than what they produce. At very high production volumes, the factory becomes more of a product than the product itself.’

Tesla’s other main industrial base, its Gigafactory outside Sparks, Nevada, launched in June of 2014, and aims to begin full Lithium Ion battery production by the end of 2016. The company plans a production rate of 500,000 cars per year, and predicts that by the latter half of the decade will require the world’s entire supply of lithium ion power to fuel its vehicles.

Grohmann Engineering, founded in 1963 and listed on the stock exchange in 1996, employs 1155 people. It provides automated and assembly systems in the automotive, pharmaceutical, medical and semiconductor industries, amongst others. It seems to have connections to the Chinese industrial scene; it’s dual-language (German/English) employee handbook also has a Chinese edition.

Germany’s industrial lead in Europe makes it an obvious launch point for occidental automation research for Tesla, even if the country is warier than many about Tesla’s momentum towards the self-driving car.


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