Elon Musk did say that the Model 3 manufacture is a “production hell,” but it might be worse than anyone ever expected. According to Electrek, Tesla has only produced 440 of its highly anticipated mass-market sedans since they started production in July. This number is based on the word of insider sources, Electrek claims.
Tesla had previously admitted in September that they had manufactured 260 Model 3s and delivered 220 of them. At the time, they said in a press release that there were no fundamental issues with the Model 3 supply chain or production.
“We understand what needs to be fixed and we are confident of addressing the manufacturing bottleneck issues in the near-term,” Tesla said via the press release.
But they may want to start singing a different tune since, based on the insider information, they only produced 180 Model 3s in the last month.
As Electrek notes, during a conference call with financial analysts last week, Musk said that Tesla’s goal was to eventually start producing 5,000 Model 3s by December. But it’s clear they are currently a long way off from that. He did admit that the ramp-up would be difficult, however.
The less than 500 Model 3s that were manufactured went to company insiders, employees, and their family members. Tesla had previously said that they would start delivering to unaffiliated customers in October, but that date was postponed due to their “production bottlenecks.” There have been sightings of Model 3s being delivered, though. However, those are most likely going to insiders as well.
These sightings seem to indicate that the Model 3 production hasn’t come to complete halt, so why the delivery delay?
The problem apparently stems from the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada where the battery modules are being manufactured. The battery module is one of the most complex elements of the vehicle and making them is very labor intensive when it’s not completely automated.
Therein lies the problem. Elon Musk previously said that a subcontractor “dropped the ball” so badly that they had to completely rework the software that’s supposed to automate the production line. Now, new electromechanical elements must be fabricated and installed. So this has understandably caused a delay since the Model 3’s long-range battery pack consists of four modules with a combined total of 4416 cells. As Electrek notes, it would be incredibly time-consuming to connect over 1,000 cells per module in a manufacturing environment that isn’t completely automated. So it’s no wonder that the delivery of Model 3s to customers has been delayed.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, Tesla recently acquired Perbix Machine Company, a firm that specializes in automated manufacturing equipment. The purchase looks like an effort by Elon Musk and Co. to take control of that aspect of their supply chain.
The Model 3 isn’t the first Tesla vehicle that has hit production snags. As Ars Technica notes, the company went through lots of challenges to meet delivery quotas for the Model S and X. It’s clear that they believe that the solution is more automation. Musk told investors last year that he wants his factories to be so automated that they look like an “alien dreadnought.” Furthermore, Tesla executives have become known for saying they want to “build the machine that builds the machine.”
Do you think that Tesla will be able to start producing 5,000 Model 3s per week by December? Is their Model 3 dream in jeopardy?
[Featured Image by Tesla Motors]