"Soft tooling" complicated the launch of the Tesla Model X, so the electric automaker has foregone that step with the Model 3.
According to a Tesla inside source who wishes to remain anonymous, "soft tooling" resulted in the debut of an initially problem-plagued Tesla Model X. To avoid a similar issue with the launch of the Model 3, Tesla is skipping the "soft tool" step.
Inside Tesla's Fremont factory
What's "soft tooling" you ask? As Reuters explains:
"Typically, automakers test their design with limited production using lower grade equipment that can be modified slightly to address problems. When most of the kinks are worked out, they order the final equipment."
So, tools, stamps, etc. that are sort of meant to be disposable and/or redesigned before arriving at "hard" production tooling.
Those "soft tools" are linked to several Model X problems, most notably the alignment of the Falcon Wing doors. In a rush to get the X out, initial production vehicles seemingly rolled off the line with some parts made on these "soft tools," according to the source. This led to various problems. Quoting Reuters:
"Working on a tight deadline, Tesla had no time to incorporate lessons learned from soft tooling before having to order the permanent production tooling, making the former's value negligible, the source said."
"Soft tooling did very little for the program and arguably hurt things," said the person."
As such, Tesla is foregoing this step with the Model 3 and instead is using "hard tooling" right now on the various release candidates we see from time to time on public roads.
We'll find out soon enough if this decision pays off for Tesla.