Bloomberg Gives Us The Scoop On Tesla Model 3 Production


Let’s go for a walk through hell, shall we?

Despite it being probably the most heavily scrutinized companies on the planet, the windows into Tesla are rather opaque. Sure, we see official production numbers every quarter and sit in on the automaker’s call with analysts (we’re looking very much forward to its upcoming Q2 call after the last quarterly conversation featured lots of fireworks and talk of flufferbots). Sometimes we even get mini factory tours and interviews like the recent 8-part production by CBS This Morning. Still, there’s a lot to the story that often goes unseen and untold.

Last week, Bloomberg published a lengthy feature appropriately titled “Hell for Elon Musk Is a Midsize Sedan,” which offered a fair amount of insight into the California company’s struggle to build the Tesla Model 3. If you haven’t read it yet, we suggest you check it out at your earliest convenience, along with the accompanying one-on-one interview conducted by the publication’s senior transportation reporter Tom Randall.

If you want a preview of that piece, watch the video above. In it, Randall talks about why and how Tesla struggled with building the Model 3 en masse. The story really starts to take shape when the numbers of reservation came in, doubling the most outrageous internal estimates. This led to a rethink of how they would approach production. CEO Elon Musk took the unusual step of tasking the engineers who designed the car to then design the “machine that builds the machine.”

As we’ve seen, success was not as forthcoming as had been hoped. Despite being told by outsiders that their approach wouldn’t work, Musk, whose heard those words repeatedly ever since he co-founded the company, moved forward with his vision, making lots of mistakes along the way. It can be argued that these mistakes will eventually lead to improved manufacturing processes, and they may. But, they also turned up the heat in what was already termed “production hell.”

With its internal goal of 5,000 Model 3 sedans produced in one week of burst building met, followed by a few days off to collect themselves, the Tesla team is now moving forward toward its next goal: financial profitability. If there was a benefit to the hellish path that got them to where they are now, it should become more clear in the next few months.

Source: YouTube, Bloomberg

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13 Comments on "Bloomberg Gives Us The Scoop On Tesla Model 3 Production"

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That hell is incoming to raise 10k per week it is just the beginning

I don’t think so. I think that going from 100 to 5000 was incredibly had for a variety of reasons, many of them self inflicted. But once they can make 5000 per week consistently I think that incremental increases are a given over time.

Mid-section references similar stories, with headline: “Tesla Production Projected to be 100,000 Units in 2016”

Two years later, we’re looking at 100,000 Model 3’s in six months. Shhhh. I guess they’re sorta growing.

Elon Musk: “We were huge idiots and didn’t know what we were doing.”

Quote of the year.

No, quote of Musk’s year is “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”

And of course you leave of the second part of the quote, why attempting it was nevertheless the right thing to do for them.

I know, all in the name of “balance”.

Thinking out-of-the-box can transform an industry. Sometimes, thinking out-of-the-box is asking for trouble. Tesla exemplifies both of these points. The important thing is that the mistakes of assembly line processes can be remedied, while the out-of-the-box transformation will remain.

Elon Musk has often found great success in ignoring conventional wisdom, and moving forward with his vision. Arguably it can be said he proved that with the 2008 Tesla Roadster… altho certainly a lot of that is owed to Martin Eberhard, the principle founder of Tesla Motors. Unquestionably it can be said of the Tesla Model S.

Elon has also had great success in pursuing his vision in his other endeavours, perhaps most spectacularly at SpaceX. The first time I saw a video of twin SpaceX booster rockets descending on their tails to make pinpoint landings in perfect synchronization — a ballistics ballet, as it were — chills ran up and down my spine! Go Elon!


(continued from above)

But as is often happens, hubris precedes a fall. (Insert your own aphorism, homily, proverb, or parable here.) The problem with often succeeding when ignoring “expert advice” and following your own vision, is that sooner or later you’re going to try doing something which actually is impossible, rather than merely appearing to be. This isn’t the first time It’s happened for Elon — arguably he had the same problem with the Model X. But he ignored the lesson which he said he learned there, and repeated it on an even larger scale with Model 3 production.

Fortunately for Tesla, this “fall” wasn’t actually disaster, but only a few months’ delay in ramping up TM3 production. Contrary to the loud constant whining and setting-their-hair-on-fire from the Usual Suspects among serial Tesla bashers, Tesla isn’t in any danger of financial collapse, and now Model 3 production is accelerating. Still growing in fits and starts, but at least we can finally be confident that production will continue to grow fairly rapidly over the next several months. Hopefully Tesla will reach a level where the wait time will gradually come down. A reduction in wait time will generate more demand.

Despite all the drama, I don’t think the ramp-up was actually slowed down compared to a more traditional approach. Going from first design discussions to a decent mass production rate in 3 1/2 years is still about 1 1/2 years faster than what conventional wisdom would dictate…

I think Elon is about 5 impossibles in already.