Tesla Will Retool Factory For Model 3 Production This Month

8 months ago by Steven Loveday 61

Tesla will briefly shut down the Fremont Factory to prepare for pilot production of the Model 3.

Tesla Model 3 – Image Credit: Jay.Dayzz Via Instagram

We were already aware that Tesla would have to pause current production temporarily, in order to facilitate a revamp for Model 3 production. Now, the company has publicized a more official plan.

Later this month, Tesla will halt Model S and X production for a week to set the factory up for the preliminary stages of Model 3 production. A Tesla spokesperson said that the retooling would entail expansion of the paint shop and other general maintenance, and that first quarter numbers wouldn’t be affected, since Tesla scheduled extra production days to make up for the anticipated loss. He added:

“This will allow Tesla to begin Model 3 production later this year as planned and enable us to start the ramp towards 500,000 vehicles annually in 2018.”

This marries nicely with the other recent announcement, via Reuter’s, that Tesla will begin Model 3 pilot production on February 20th. Many analysts remain skeptical that Tesla will be able to pull off its lofty production goals, but announcements such as these are an indication that plans are moving forward. Tesla shares are quickly increasing, and the February 20th pilot production date was likely chosen so that the company can share the news with shareholders two days later, when fourth-quarter results are revealed.

Tesla reported that it had 373,000 pre-orders for the Model 3, at the highest point. Since then, no additional information has been disclosed. To put it in perspective, the U.S. saw just over 84,000 all-electric (BEV) sales for 2016, and again, Tesla plans to manufacture 500,000 vehicles annually after 2018.

In the end, the company has made it clear that the timeline will come down to the success of its slowest suppliers. Tesla has already developed a reputation for pushing suppliers, and not settling if work is not up to company standards. Suppliers have to work quickly and assure top quality, or Tesla will find another option. This situation can become complicated if Tesla designers make last minute changes, or if secondary supplier options aren’t available at the last minute.

Musk has assured on numerous occasions that the Model 3 design is finished and that the car will prove simple to build. He learned his lesson after getting in over his head with the “whizbang” associated with the Model X. Another source close to the matter told Autonews that Model 3 tweaks are still underway, however, this is not necessarily uncommon in the final stages of vehicle development.

At this point, as we watch everything unfold, it is really just a matter of time before we know if Tesla can pull off this epic feat.

Source: Autonews

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61 responses to "Tesla Will Retool Factory For Model 3 Production This Month"

  1. leafowner says:

    There is still hope that I might get my M3 in 2017!!!!

    1. Mister G says:

      Rumor has it that top of the line M3 will run 0-60 mph in 2 seconds. Can’t wait for M3.

      1. floydboy says:

        Two seconds??! That would surpass a p100d! I don’t think so.

        1. ffbj says:

          Yeah: maybe top end with ludicrous under 3.0, not 2.0.
          http://www.zeroto60times.com/vehicle-make/tesla-0-60-mph-times/

          1. super390 says:

            It would be dual-motor, so we’d have to wait for a standard dual-motor first. If they put Model S rear motors in any version of the 3, that gets you enough power without having to use special light-weight body parts. I guess instead of improving aerodynamics, you want more downforce.

        2. Nix says:

          Typically, the BMW M3/M4 is faster than the larger M5/M6. The Audi S4 faster that S6. Etc.

          At some point I fully expect some variant in the Model 3 line of cars to be faster than the fastest Model S. Maybe not from the beginning, but at some point in time.

          Tesla actually revealed about a year ago that the new inverter for the TM3 will have enough power that it “could easily achieve supercar-like performance similar to the Model S

          1. R.S says:

            No they aren’t.

            The most recent M3 does 0-60 in 3.8 seconds, while the M5 does 0-60 in 3.6 seconds. The C 63 AMG S does 0-60 in 3.9 seconds the E63 AMG S takes 3.3 seconds. Audi S4 4.4 and Audi S6 3.8. The same goes for quarter mile times.

            Usually the bigger and more expensive vehicles get the bigger, or more powerful, engines and are therefore quicker. The same will probably be true for Tesla, especially since, for BEVs, it isn’t only motors buy also batteries, that have an influence on power output.

            Tesla, like BMW, Mercedes, or Audi, will still want people to buy the more expensive car instead of the cheaper one. And why would anyone buy the S P100D, if the Model 3 P80D is quicker? So even if they could, they will always keep their most expensive performance sedan, the quickest one.

            1. Trey M says:

              R.S said on
              February 11, 2017 at 5:55 am
              No they aren’t.

              The most recent M3 does 0-60 in 3.8 seconds, while the M5 does 0-60 in 3.6 seconds

              This is incorrect. The M3 has a 0-60 of 3.8 whereas the M5 0-60 is 4.2. I am unsure of the MB or Audi numbers, but I am positive on the BMW numbers.
              It is not always the case the larger more expensive car it faster, or the other way. People buy the car for other reasons than just being the fastest. Myself, I like the M5 for the comfort along with the performance.

              1. WARREN says:

                M5 with 570HP+ has the better power to weight ratio and quarter mile trap speed than then M3/4. FYI the new M550 with AWD is supposed to do 0-60 in like 3.7 seconds. The new M5 will shatter that when it comes out later this year. There is a guy with a newer tuned M5 that has hit high 9s at over 140mph in the quarter mile!

                http://www.bimmerboost.com/content.php?6883-F10-M5-into-the-9-s-BimmerBoost-member-sets-a-new-S63TU-record-running-9-9-140-in-the-1-4-mile

                Note the car is doing 111mph in like 6.6 seconds. For a Tesla to do 140mph in the qtr mile, it would need almost 200 more HP. Note, this BMW sedan makes somewhere close to 1000HP on the stock block. FYI all the 140mph cars like the much lighter P1 and 918 have around 900HP to give you an idea of how remarkable it is for a 4.4L V8 in a M5 sedan to be doing this.

            2. Nix says:

              RS — I have to admit, I haven’t stayed up to date on recent years of ICE car performance.

              Back when I used to follow such things, that was not the case. If it has now changed, I guess I’ve learned something new today about ICE cars.

              Thanks.

    2. Mikael says:

      Then we know that you are a Tesla owner who lives in California and are getting a fully loaded version. 🙂

    3. leafowner says:

      I live out east (Atlanta) but did reserve pre-reveal. I know getting it in 2017 is still a long shot…. I hope they quickly roll this out and not spend the first several months just shipping to customers on the Left coast like the Bolt is doing. I would not say mine will be fully loaded — as I do not need the Ludicrous upgrade — but I plan on doing many of the other upgrades (dual motor, larger battery, premium package, full autopilot, etc.)

      1. Nix says:

        Here is one guestimate based upon the tool “Waiting” posted (I’m not saying this is accurate, it is just one seemingly educated guess):

        Reservation time you entered 31 Mar 2016, 7:50 pm Pacific Time
        Production start date for your region 30 Dec 2017
        Your place in global list in Sep 2017 62,743 / 501,453 = 12.51%

        Global production sequence number 122,379
        Production start 9 Apr 2018
        Production end 13 Apr 2018
        Delivery 1 May 2018
        Tax credits $7,500 until Jun 30, 2018

      2. MTN Ranger says:

        I got my reservation at 10am on the first day on the east coast. I reasonably expect to get my lightly equipped ($55-65k) Model 3 with the larger battery between July-Dec 2018. If there are delays, then probably later in 2019.

        1. Rich says:

          I’m hoping all of us with pre-reveal reservations will take delivery no later than end of 2018 Q2.

    4. ffbj says:

      Is it rear wheel drive and in CA? Then you have a chance. Apparently rear wheel drives for CA are being made first.

  2. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    Keep moving forward…

  3. Waiting says:

    Great news. Everything seems to be on schedule but one of my favorite “wish” sites, Tesla Model 3 Delivery Estimator at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1rKDw72FOIMmSY8wBVl0ECjAjwYV9shlvRiVKKzfu3L8/edit#gid=0 has moved my estimated delivery date from Jan 17, 2018 to Feb 23, 2016. I hope they don’t know something…..

    1. Mister G says:

      Did you mean 2018?

      1. Waiting says:

        Yep…thanks

  4. AlphaEdge says:

    Is it really happening? 🙂 🙂 🙂
    Yes, it is! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. LOL says:

    I don’t think its much of the question whether Tesla can pull this of but for what range they will opt for: 295 miles or 345, and in addition to that at which stage development of Model Y is.

    1. floydboy says:

      The way I see it, just 6 of those 14kWh battery pods you see in a powerpack, would give you 84kWh. I could definitely see that getting you 345 miles in a Model 3! Then they could just software lock 1 pod, to give you a middle range 70kWh, good for around 288 miles(using a 4.1 mile per kWh rating)

      1. James M says:

        Good thinking. And 4 modules would make the 56kWh base model for 215 miles, or 54 miles per module. Therefore your math nearly checks out: 56kWh=215 miles, 70kWh=269, 84kWh=324. I’m guessing this will simply translate to 3 model number choices: 55=215, 70D=280, P85D=325

        1. Rich says:

          Hopefully, Tesla won’t force the performance option to get the top battery option. Model 3 85D sounds good to me.

  6. georgeS says:

    Just a minor quibble here with Steven Loveday calling it re-tooling. The auto news article called as the source in this article never used the words re-tooling. Did it ? Maybe I missed it. They said it was a shut down to add to the paint facility.

    Also, the previous article Steven wrote used the words pilot production when the original source said it was “test building”.

    Everyone seems to thinking production model 3’s will be rolling off the line on Feb 20th.

    That is not the case . Read what Tesla said. “Production later this year”.

    IMO we are talking alpha test vehicles coming in more numbers on Feb 20th.

    Remember that there are alpha test vehicles and beta test vehicles. Alpha’s are development cars that look like the final product but are NOT production vehicles.

    That said this gives Tesla 10 Months to do all the development testing AND all the production vehicle testing……a tight schedule indeed.

    IMO we see a few production vehicles by the last of this year at best.

    PS if the source did say “re-tooling ” then my apologies ahead of time.

    1. Nix says:

      “Everyone seems to thinking production model 3’s will be rolling off the line on Feb 20th.”

      I’m not aware of anybody who believes that. I think there is some mis-communication going on if that is what you believe “Everyone” is thinking.

      1. ffbj says:

        No, I actually read that. I think they made a mistake. That Feb 20th start production. It’s the media they goof things up, also I read retooling one place and paint shop, someplace else.

        http://www.investors.com/news/technology/tesla-stock-holds-despite-reports-of-employees-looking-to-unionize/?yptr=yahoo

        1. ffbj says:

          For instance the union article above contains this:
          “The reports of efforts to unionize the plant come as Tesla is getting ready to start production of its Model 3 sedan on Feb. 20. The $40,000-or-so-base-price Model 3 will be Tesla’s third, and lowest-cost, car model on the market.” IBD

          1. Nix says:

            Ah, if “Everyone” actually means “Some people out on the internet”, then this is indeed just a communication issue. That’s not how I would read “Everyone”.

            1. ffbj says:

              I think everyone would agree with that.

                1. georgeS says:

                  Hey Nix,
                  Of course you are correct and saying “everyone” was a wrong choice of words.

                  You are focusing too much on specific words and not what I said.

                  People are misconstruing this all into “Production” cars.

                  The cars on Feb 20th are not production cars and they are not made on a complete assembly line. If you have references otherwise then please post them.

                  I think ffbj just agreed with what I said.

                  Just to recap:

                  These are Alpha cars starting to be built on Feb 20th. That gives Tesla roughly 10 months to be in production. It is a tight schedule.

                  1. Nix says:

                    I see, definitely just confusion over word choice then. Thanks for clearing that up.

                    The word “Production” itself is particularly thorny.

                    In one context, it can be used for the term “production cars” that will actually be sold to customers, vs “non-production cars” that will be used for crash tests, testing, etc.

                    In a development context, the term “start production” is the point where you go from making clay models and hand-built one-off’s, to building something on the “production line” (AKA assembly line).

                    So just right there we’ve overloaded this word with 3 different connotations.

                    I suppose to be pedantic, Tesla is going to start production of non-production cars on their Model 3 production line.

                    Note each use of the word “production” has a different connotation. I can see where this is getting confused, and can make communication into quite a production! (yet another connotation….)

                    Cheers!

                    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                      Thank you for spelling that out, Nix. Yes, there definitely is some confusion over the term “production” here.

                      These production prototypes will be partially produced on the production line (and almost certainly finished by hand). Whether it’s appropriate to use the term “re-tooling” for preparing the production line to produce these pre-production Model 3’s… well, I won’t venture an opinion. On the one hand, certainly there will have to be some retooling involved. On the other hand, the term “re-tooling” is generally applied to an auto assembly line which is preparing to put a new model (or new model year) into actual production… not making pre-production units or “production prototypes”.

                  2. Tom says:

                    You are 100% correct. I’d also like to add that this plant is so huge, it was built to sustain a production schedule of 500,000 vehicles per year. Large sections of the building are currently not used so starting up another line does not involve ‘retooling’ per se as much as adding and it would only be necessary to shut down portions of existing production inasmuch as there is commonality in the additional production lines. Presumably that is the adding onto the paint shop. They really just first worked out kinks in the X. I’m expecting like the X where they spit a few out just to say they started, then it took awhile for meaningful volume to flow, here we will see a few later this year that end up in customer hands (after alpha and beta testing) and only any actual volume production in 2018. Looking at the 2015 sales card for X we get the first 3 months of sales as 6, 4, and 5 vehicles. Wouldn’t surprise me if that was Q3 or even Q4 sales for the Model 3 in 2017.

          2. There is ‘production’, and then there is “Production”.

            To quote from ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ movie: “Do you want to dance, or do you Want To Dance?”

            As in, production (of more ‘Alpha’ test vehicles), or Production of ‘Beta’ Test Vehicles?

            In judging from the idea of the news that the 2170 cells from the Gigafactory won’t be made for the Model 3, it would be easy to thunk there are ni cells yet to make a ‘Beta’ Model 3 test vehicle, but we could be assuming wrong, as Panasonic may well have samples of the preferred chemistry, made on a test line in Japan.

            For sure, vehicles that meet ‘Production Conforming Vehicle’ Specs, will likely come later, with actual cells from the Gigafactory Model 3 Cell Line, but we could still get as many as the oft quoted ‘300 beta test’ vehicles, as the ‘parts ordered to build 300 beta test vehicles’, might well have included 2170 cells from Panasonic, Japan!

            1. “In judging from the idea of the news that the 2170 cells from the Gigafactory won’t be made for the Model 3,” – sorry, forgot to say/add: for the Model 3, “until the 2nd Quarter this year,”

            2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              “…it would be easy to thunk there are ni cells yet to make a ‘Beta’ Model 3 test vehicle, but we could be assuming wrong, as Panasonic may well have samples of the preferred chemistry, made on a test line in Japan.”

              I seem to recall that it’s been reported in a comment for a previous article here (by Nix?) that yes, Panasonic’s battery plant in Japan will be making a batch of 2170 cells for use in pre-production Model 3’s.

              Assuming that’s right, and I do assume it is, then the production prototypes which Tesla will be making starting Feb. 20 will most likely have battery packs with 2170 cells.

              1. Nix says:

                Jay Cole is source:

                Jay Cole
                January 4, 2017 at 5:43 pm

                Just as random FYI, 2170 cell production is already underway with Panasonic in Japan, so those are the cells Tesla is currently utilizing in tests.

                http://insideevs.com/tesla-gigafactory-begins-2170-battery-cell-production/#comment-1124905

                In addition, if you go back to Tesla’s Q2 2014 conference call, they talked about building 2170 test cells all the way back then.

                I would venture to guess that they’ve had 2170 packs long, long before the Gigafactory began 2170 battery production in December. They certainly would have tested them long before they green-lighted production.

      2. ffbj says:

        I agree with your point though, since i was not thinking that either. I was thinking October for the real start of production.

        1. ffbj says:

          Feb. 20th is for prior to full production test vehicles.

  7. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

    The Automotive News article said: “Sources with knowledge of the Model 3 timeline had called it extremely aggressive, with challenges compounded by Tesla making last-minute changes to the car’s design.”

    What last-minute changes are they talking about? The only thing that comes to mind is a redesigned trunk opening.

    1. ffbj says:

      That, and some work on the front and the interior, is what I read.

    2. Kdawg says:

      Maybe trying to figure out where to stuff more battery to beat the Bolt’s 238 mile range 😀

      1. jelloslug says:

        Beating 238 will be no problem. Remember, it’s already been stated that there will be more than one battery option.

      2. georgeS says:

        kdawg,
        I read 70 kwh max. but that supposedly gives 300 mile range. More range is good. My Model S only gets around 255 now and I wish I had more.

        A Model 3 with 70 kwh would be very nice.

  8. HVACman says:

    You will know Tesla is getting close to production level when they release the price and options schedule and send out e-mails with instructions on how to turn a refundable “pre-order” to a non-refundable deposit on an actual purchase.

  9. Mikael says:

    A question to native english speakers. Shouldn’t it just be that they are tooling up for the Model 3? Retool is changing tools, something you can do on an existing production line but not on a new one.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      As noted, they are making some changes in the paint shop which is used for the S and X.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Yeah. The Model 3 will apparently be mostly built on one or more new production lines, using all the crated equipment previously reported as occupying much space inside the Fremont plant.

        Mostly. But some stations on the existing production lines will also be used for the Model 3.

        So, as I see it: Mostly tooling-up one or more new production lines, but also some retooling of the Model S/X lines.

  10. DL says:

    Hey you guys remember that Musk was “back-ordering” a thank-you gift for all the people that got in line to put down their deposit last March – whatever happened to that?

    1. jelloslug says:

      They were sent out months and months ago.

      1. DL says:

        Dang, I got in line that first day and put down my deposit at 11am PST. I wonder how they determined who got that gift because I didn’t 🙁

        1. Mister G says:

          Did you get a confirmation e-mail from Tesla? Because if you didn’t somebody pocketed your $$$ lol
          …but you can buy a print from ebay for $25.

    2. Nix says:

      Historical print, suitable for framing:

      1. Mister G says:

        That’s the print I got in a white TESLA folder with a printed thank you card from Elon. It’s a $1000.00 print lol

        1. Nix says:

          Reminds me of the late night commercials.

          “If you don’t like your Tesla reservation, send it back for a full refund, and you keep this print and folder, and personal message from Elon free for you to keep! Order now!”

          *laugh*

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Okay, I had to look; the print (with “elon musk gift thankyou note”) going for $25-30 on ebay.

          (Fair warning: Link below goes to an e-bay auction site, altho one to which I have no personal connection. I hope that doesn’t violate InsideEVs’ terms of use:)

          http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tesla-model-3-pre-order-sketch-art-collectible-elon-musk-gift-thankyou-note-/272530121125?hash=item3f740fa1a5:g:POIAAOSwt5hYg4Pi

          1. Mister G says:

            $25 is a steal I paid $1000.00 for mine lol

          2. Nix says:

            Apparently if you keep it sealed in the envelope it came it, it is worth $100:

            eBay

            *Laugh*