Analysts Impressed By Tesla Model 3 Tent, Build Quality, Production Speed

AUG 28 2018 BY EVANNEX 53

MODEL 3 ON TRACK FOR 8,000 CARS PER WEEK, SAY ANALYSTS IN DETAILED TESLA FACTORY AUDIT

The road to the future runs through Fremont. Tesla has always been the leader of the EV revolution, and (despite the media nonsense about “Tesla-killers”) that isn’t going to change any time soon. Tesla’s future depends on achieving long-term profitability, and that depends on sustaining volume production of Model 3. So the burning question of the day is, what’s really going on at the Tesla factory?

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Model 3 surrounded by robots at Tesla’s factory (Image: Teslarati)

Hoping to answer that question, two well-known auto analysts, George Galliers and Arndt Ellinghorst of the UK firm Evercore ISI, recently spent two days at Tesla’s Fremont plant, where they were granted extensive access to both the facilities and the company’s workforce (as reported by the Financial Times).

To date, very few outsiders have been allowed inside the so-called “tent” (actually a lightweight aluminum structure) where Tesla quickly erected a new Model 3 assembly line. Around a fifth of the Model 3 cars built last quarter came off this line. “Given the speed with which the facility was put in place and the associated capex, ignoring the building’s fabric, it looked very much like general assembly at other auto plants which we have visited,” said Galliers and Ellinghorst. Because this line produces only Model 3s, it is simpler than most auto production lines. “The production process involves only 43 steps/stations, 25-33% of the number found in traditional auto. This facility looks set to be permanent and in theory should be able to support much faster cycle times…Initial reservations around GA4 [General Assembly 4], which we voiced in July, were quelled during our visit.”

However, not all is running smoothly. “Model 3’s Body Shop and highly automated GA3 General Assembly were extremely interesting given the level of automation attempted and the density of the machinery and limited floor plan which they seemingly occupy. However, while Body Shop line rates were sub 65 seconds at several stations, based off our measurements, and we saw evidence of GA3 3-shift volumes consistent with what the company has guided for, we witnessed stoppages and downtime on both lines. It was not clear how much of the downtime related to scheduled breaks and maintenance vs. unscheduled problems.”

“Given red Andons [warning lights], it seems that both lines do continue to suffer teething and calibration problems, though not problems which would prevent Tesla from reaching its near-term production targets.”

Quality control, especially inconsistent panel gaps, has been a troublesome issue for Model 3. According to Messrs. Galliers and Ellinghorst, Tesla has made progress in that category: “Panel gaps (chassis build quality) seems to have improved notably and, according to Tesla employees (that have worked at premium brands), are on par with German premium cars. Our subjective impressions confirm that the gap to BMW, Audi, and Mercedes is definitely less pronounced than it was in the past.”

Above: Model 3 inside Tesla’s “tent” area (Image: InsideEVs)

The number of vehicles being taken off the line for rework has been another issue. “One thing which surprised us was how ‘clean’ the bodies of the vehicles looked before paint. We saw very limited, almost no, evidence of markings on the bodies in terms of inconsistent coloring, textures or tones. Scuffing was not visible or prevalent. We had expected to see more evidence of scuffing. Of course, this does not mean that there were not vehicles, pre paint, which had been set aside for rework. There were. However, the issues were not obvious or visible to us.”

As Elon Musk has said many times, every Tesla vehicle is subjected to a barrage of quality checks. “At the end of the welding process, the chassis gets a 200-300 spot laser quality check, similar to other OEM body lines we have seen,” write Galliers and Ellinghorst. “Andon boards were triggered on several occasions; a good sign we understand as it confirms quality checks are taking place and active. Labor management seemed ‘enabling’ with teams provided with areas and tools to monitor and address potential problems. Within GA3, nearly every workstation appeared to have access to a computer and monitors while similar setups were frequent within GA4. We observed employees checking and examining screens frequently across both lines. This behavior looked unprompted from our vantage point.”

The analysts noted that Tesla constantly collects data about the production process to help it improve. “One important takeaway, which we believe is differentiating at Tesla, is that one of the first steps completed in Assembly is to fit an onboard computer/chip. Every part subsequently fitted to the vehicle is recorded by the vehicle’s computer. As a result, the vehicle has a full record of every part fitted, when it was fitted, and various other measures of importance during the fitting process (e.g. torque applied when it comes to fitting parts during assembly). This provides Tesla with a feedback loop for continuous improvement.”

So, what do Galliers and Ellinghorst think about the big question: can Tesla sustain, and hopefully increase, its production rate? “Based off our tour and what we saw, we see no reason why Stamping and General Assembly should not be able to handle [seven to eight thousand cars per week] today, and even potentially 10k units, with very little incremental Capex. We believe the same is also true for the Paint Shop when it comes to reaching 8k units a week, with some incremental capex potentially required to get to 10k units.

“For Body, our understanding is that incremental capex is required (our impression is in the tens and not hundreds of millions) in order to get to both 8k units and eventually 10k units. While certain parts of the line are able to handle these volumes today, other sections will require improved design to achieve faster run rates while, in a handful of instances, it may be necessary to have a second line running in tandem.”

Above: Model 3 production ramping up at Tesla’s factory (Image: Teslarati)

As the Financial Times notes, for Tesla to achieve Musk’s goal of producing a million cars a year by 2020, it may not be necessary for the Fremont factory to build 10,000 cars per week if the planned Chinese Gigafactory is in operation by then.

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Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Financial Times

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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53 Comments on "Analysts Impressed By Tesla Model 3 Tent, Build Quality, Production Speed"

newest oldest most voted
Döggy

Best tent in the world.

Val

they are so far ahead everybody else… if you can’t find a way to make peace with this you’ll get sick…. and it’s only the beginning

Cavaron

“*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories)”
That is not enough of a disclaimer for you? Yeah, please stop visiting this website…

I bet everything pro TSLA is biased and contra TSLA is unbiased in your opinion?

David

Actually you can numbnuts.

CDAVIS

@jebise said: “…use it to manipulate public opinion in your advantage… thats jail time pal…”
————-

The anti-Tesla Jim Chanos Wolfpack was using the Tesla Tent production line as part of their anti-Tesla narrative… they tried to spin the production tent as a half-as* carnival tent not capable of quality production… so I can completely understand how it’s very upsetting to the anti-Tesla crowd to hear good reports about the high quality of production coming from that first (more to come soon) tent facility.

Here is the nightmare horror unfolding (pun intended) for anti-Tesla Jim Chanos crowd:

*** Tesla Production Line Delivered In-A-Box ***

The hugely successful Tesla Tent Production Line will become further refined & soon replicated as a quick way to get a Tesla production line up and running… the entire line can be transported in shipping containers and put into working production in a fraction of the time to build a like-kind hard facility… big win for Tesla!

What is being learned about about Production Line Delivered In-A-Box has literally out of this world applications… SpaceX Moon & Mars.

It’s getting interesting folks… grab some popcorn and prepare to watch an interesting show of inovation…

Chris

If you’re going to needlessly attack the website you should probably learn to write English first. Go crawl back into your hill Billy!

CDAVIS

INSIDEEVs OP- If possible please post my reply comment about possible future applications of Tesla Tent Production as an original comment … apparently the parent-comment was deleted for violating the comments rules… which I’m glad to see it was!

Speculawyer

Yeah, holy smokes…I typed up a long response with no profane words and it got flagged for moderation. All I said is that tents are just fine in the SF bay area due to our very mild weather!

I’m moderating 100s of profane comments. Yours went to moderation accidentally, based on something the system found. I approved it as quick as possible.

It is not able to be retrieved and reposted as yours. However, here it is: CDAVIS said: @jebise said: “…use it to manipulate public opinion in your advantage… thats jail time pal…” ————- The anti-Tesla Jim Chanos Wolfpack was using the Tesla Tent production line as part of their anti-Tesla narrative… they tried to spin the production tent as a half-as* carnival tent not capable of quality production… so I can completely understand how it’s very upsetting to the anti-Tesla crowd to hear good reports about the high quality of production coming from that first (more to come soon) tent facility. Here is the nightmare horror unfolding (pun intended) for anti-Tesla Jim Chanos crowd: *** Tesla Production Line Delivered In-A-Box *** The hugely successful Tesla Tent Production Line will become further refined & soon replicated as a quick way to get a Tesla production line up and running… the entire line can be transported in shipping containers and put into working production in a fraction of the time to build a like-kind hard facility… big win for Tesla! What is being learned about about Production Line Delivered In-A-Box has literally out of this world applications… SpaceX Moon & Mars. It’s… Read more »
CDAVIS

@Steven Loveday- Thanks…

ffbj

Under the Big Top with Musk as the Ringmaster.

John

And don’t forget- every good circus needs an audience. We all have our roles, don’t we?

Counterpoint

That was a well-written article that succinctly addressed the most important issue for Tesla right now. And based on the observer’s reports, it seems Tesla is indeed starting to overcome growing pains.

rey

Tesla will continue to grow and innovate and TSLA shorts will continue to spread their FUD and get burned , and those who follow them will lose as well. Elon get that Mod Y on the lines already ,there are over a MILLION customers waiting to throw their reservation$$$$$$$$ at you.

William

Me being one, amongst the waiting Million future Tesla Model Y reservation customers. I hope 2020-21 is when they start to really DELIVER some serious production!

Loboc

Me Three!

Robert Weekley

If Model Y comes with Towing, a lot of European folks, & Myself will add it to their choices! Towing for Model 3, as an Option, might not be along any time soon!

rey

The TENT is a Canadian innovation , way to go Canada!

Speculawyer

Can you please elaborate? This particular tent? The invention of the tent?

antrik

Apparently the company building these structures (Sprung) was originally founded in Canada: https://www.sprung.com/about-sprung/our-history/

It’s not really clear though whether the invention of their current product line indeed happened in Canada. I can’t even figure out where their current headquarters are… If they are still a Canadian company, they certainly do not seem to be proud of that fact.

Ron M

Wasn’t a Tee Pee basically a tent. hahaha

David Green

I am impressed with all the garbage and junk all around… Looks like a professional operation….

Get Real

It is a large scale manufacturing line so their is lots of stuff around it as part of the staging for final assembly.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Just like Chinese food bruh, if it aint a dirty hole in the wall the food is probably not that good.

antrik

Yeah, who cares about a thorough analysis by professionals with inside access: let’s look at superficial issues instead — that’s surely more important!

David Green

Bankers, are not automotive analysts…

Pushmi-Pullyu

“This facility looks set to be permanent…”

Then why did Tesla only file for permits for a temporary structure, and erect it (you don’t “build” a tent) without any heating, air conditioning, or fire suppression sprinkler system?

I’d say anyone who is “impressed” with putting a production line in a tent must be quite easily impressed.

I’m glad that Tesla found a temporary stopgap measure to allow it to ramp up Model 3 production despite the Fremont assembly plant “bursting at the seams” But you have to drink extra-strength Kool-Aid (as Evannex clearly has) to believe that this production-line-in-a-tent is going to be a permanent fixture!

Loboc

Yearly average daily high temp for Fremont is between 60 and 80F. Average low temp is above 40F. 41 days of rain per year. Sounds ideal to me. Throw some fans in there and I’d be good.

Speculawyer

Because it was probably much easier to get a temporary structure permit quickly.

As a person that lives in the SF Bay Area, I can tell you that there is nothing wrong with using a tent structure here. We have very mild weather here. No snow, no tornadoes, no hurricanes, and almost no thunderstorms. I would think that cooling would be the most difficult persistent weather related difficulty. Flooding is a very rare possibility but normal buildings are susceptible to that in the same manner.

antrik

You seem to have missed the tiny little detail that the opinion is quoted from the professional analysts, not the Evannex writer who just retold the story.

Seven Electrics

Positive analyst = accurate analyst.

Negative analyst = short shill hack.

Mrdoubleb

This analyst has actually been inside the Factory. Would you please point to a “negative analyst” who has seen Tesla production first hand?

David Green

Isn’t it funny how that works with the Tesla fan bois?

buutvrij

Well, explaine. How does that work?

Robert Weekley

As said above “Would you please point to a “negative analyst” who has seen Tesla production first hand?”

David Green

Dan Neil of the WSJ called Tesla manufacturing a dimly lit, cluttered mess, kobe beef of lean manufacturing was I recall his comment after stating he has toured many auto plants…

antrik

Yeah, he didn’t like the looks of the factory. He’s just a car reviewer though AIUI, not any kind of industrial analyst. His superficial opinion doesn’t really tell much about how well the factory actually operates.

Might in fact be why Tesla invited the professional analysts: to set the record straight.

Dima

Tesla’s production numbers are still a bit disappointing, relative to what they promised, though.

Tesla is still only producing 4,500 Model 3s per week now (over a year into the production ramp).

Hauer

No hard data for you claim, I suppose.

antrik

Electrek run an article yesterday claiming to have hard data. It’s all in line with Tesla’s actually stated Q3 goal of 50,000 – 55,000 Model 3, though.

Speculawyer

Honestly, anyone that takes Elon Musk’s projections as gospel truth at this stage is merely being intentionally obtuse. He is notoriously over-optimistic. Deal with it.

Ron M

InsiderEVs has 60,952 Tesla’s sold just in the US this year through June 30, 2018. Which American or foreign manufacturer are you comparing Tesla with. Oh and who installed the largest at it’s time storage battery in the world. Yes foreign companies have promised to get EV’s to compete with Tesla for the last few years. I don’t see any competition.

Legacy vehicle manufacturers just spend there money on lobbyist telling Trump and Congress we can’t meet the CAFE standards. Which will end up costing consumers and the environment but make the Koch Brothers happy.

Robert Weekley

“Koch Brothers”, can they feel as “The Brittle (Briddle?) Brothers” did, in DJango, Unchained?

Robert Weekley

So in 1 Week, lowly Tesla Model 3, still feeling the pains of “Production Hell”, makes just 4,500 Model 3’s, while the Lofty GM, only gets about 2,500 to 2,800 Bolt EV’s Built? In a Month!

antrik

A goal is not the same as a promise. Sure, it’s always somewhat disappointing when a goal can’t be met — but at this point, it’s close enough really.

Alain Belanger

Saturday they flown 6 planes from Germany their outfit they do Robot automated Elon at is best check the way he will finished the years

Ron M

Attached is a completely ridiculous article about a Tesla without Musk. EV’s wouldn’t be where they are today without Musk and I defy you find someone that could do the job Musk has done. Manafort and Gates have shown how many rich people have used there position to enrich themselves and lie and cheat the tax system. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple and Apple floundered like a fish out of water. Once Steve Jobs returned he set the path for into become a trillion dollar company. I’m glad Tesla will remain a public company because the best is yet to come and I want to be part of this revolution into EV’s solar and battery’s that Musk has created. I want Musk to continue leading Tesla into the future.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/tesla-without-elon-musk-how-a-once-unthinkable-idea-became-unavoidable/ar-BBMwAJH

TomArt

Yep, the business world is used to business types – Wall Street profiteers – with self-enrichment as the underlying goal for everything that is done in their respective businesses. These people are not used to engineers – specifically, they cannot fathom having people in power who are concerned with solving problems as quickly and efficiently as possible. Solving complex, systemic problems does not work on Wall Street timetables. It is utterly beyond them. That’s partially why you see such incredulous nutcases assuming that the whole thing must be a ponzi scheme or pyramid scheme, or some sort of ploy, that has nothing to do with building an electric car company. You’d think that, after 10 years of manufacturing vehicles, these profiteers might catch on, but no, can’t see past the ends of their noses.

antrik

This article actually has some interesting points; but also lots of sensationalist nonsense. It’s in fact self-contradicting: in one paragraph claiming that nobody could last for long as a second-in-command under Musk; but just a few paragraphs down mentioning Gwynne Shotwell doing exactly that at SpaceX…

Speculawyer

As a person that lives in the SF Bay Area, I can tell you that there is nothing wrong with using a tent structure here. We have notoriously mild weather here. No snow, no tornadoes, no hurricanes, and almost no thunderstorms. I would think that cooling would be the most difficult persistent weather related difficulty. Flooding is a very rare possibility but normal buildings are susceptible to that in the same manner.

And it is not like tents are new there. I picked up a Tesla with a friend and the pick-up was in a tent.

The SF Bay area is a terrible place for auto assembly due to land prices, traffic, labor prices, etc….but this is one area where the SF bay area turned out to have an advantage.

Tropicalday88

This is the type of informative press that helps shed some light on Tesla’s actual progress in terms that actually matter. Way to much inc is wasted on tweets that have absolutely nothing to do with the ramp up of Model 3 production.

Several important nuggets of relevant information were gleaned from this article. I think the most important one had to do with continuous improvement of the Model 3 production line, one of the first stages of assembly the computer chip insertion to log and every step. This will be a key factor in Tesla’s ramp up.

TomArt

Agreed – this is the sort of info that is useful – what are they actually doing? Looking forward to the August report card next week!