Tesla’s Robot Supplier Says “On-Time Model 3 Startup” Is “Attainable”


Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

The world’s largest industrial robot manufacturer, Japanese company Fanuc, employs around 600 robots at the Tesla Fremont assembly plant. That number will increase soon with plans for Model 3 production. Fanuc America’s director of sales, Rob Kuphal, said:

Tesla Robots In Action

Tesla Robots In Action

(We)  “will work as hard as we can to support an on-time Model 3 startup. It’s tight timing, but it’s attainable with a lot of work between now and then.”

However, most of the body line is constructed by robots, and a new body line set to be built by Japan-based Hokuto, hasn’t been built yet.  Tomoyuki Mori of Hokuto assured:

“We understand what Elon is saying and are trying to do it right now.”

The Model 3 stamping line will also be a brand new addition to the Fremont factory and its construction is not yet underway.

Paint and general assembly shops are the only areas of the 5,000+ employee factory that are ready for the task. With the July 1 deadline only 10 months away, Elon Musk has made it repeatedly clear to all manufacturers, suppliers, and employees, that time is of the essence. He explained:

“I don’t expect us to be at full production on July 1. But I have to drive all suppliers and internal efforts to that date, knowing that some will fall short. And those that fall short will be cut out of the picture.”

Musk shocked the media and investors when he announced that he was pushing back his goal of increasing production to 500,000 cars by 2020. He now maintains that Tesla can make it happen by 2018. Currently, Tesla is on target to make about 80,000 cars this year. This is 30,000 ahead of last year’s numbers.

Peter Hochholdinger, Tesla’s vice president for vehicle production, is convinced that the Model 3 is a car that is designed for manufacturing ease. Peter’s vast experience at Audi is a huge asset to Tesla and the success of the Model 3’s rigorous timeline. He shared:

“We’re avoiding the production complexities of the Model X, and we’re doing more pre-assembly.”

Source: Yahoo! Finance

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57 Comments on "Tesla’s Robot Supplier Says “On-Time Model 3 Startup” Is “Attainable”"

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Good to read other high profile gentlemen think those plans are not too far fetched; quite reassuring indeed.

The biggest issue Tesla will have is the same thing that came up with the MX and MS. No test runs of a few hundred cars that are road tested for 5-6 months like other car companies. If they install the last part of the line in June and roll out in July fitting issues and poor finished product will continue with the Model ≡ for the launch.

Agreed. I trust that Tesla really means that the first production intent cars are coming off the line then and these will all be factory test cars only and not for sale.

Tesla ordered parts for 100 cars. This was a months or so ago, so maybe they are doing a test run?

I read parts for 300 cars. *shrugs*

“Deliveries begin late 2017”.

The first cars will go to employees, and I think they will have the role as testers

That’s an intetesting way to leverage a workforce…

Isn’t that the way the “big boys” do it? Letting their employees drive the early production units, to find out what the bugs are before they’re sold to the general public?

The difference here is that Tesla’s employees are buying the cars, instead of having them on loan for extended test driving.

And before the Tesla bashers chime in with their insinuations about employees being pressured to do so, let’s remember that these people are merely the segment of Model ≡ reservation holders who also happen to be Tesla employees. And just like any reservation holder, they can choose to wait until a later date to convert their reservation to an order, if they want to.

I would not be so sure the first cars would be tested by just Tesla Employees with a Model 3 Reservation, and that had to buy them. I expect the first dozen or so would go to employees whose job it is is to test first vehicles off the line. Additional vehicles may be offered to Reservation Holders First, among their Employee base, but I would expect even those without committing a thousand bucks for a leading reservation, will be offered opportunities for testing and reporting, so as to get some early critical feedback from the less committed employees, as more representative of the (less commited) general public! I still say, Tesla should have at least 2 copies in each market they do sales in or deliveries to, at least those that are currently connected, from as soon as possible, to get as much as a 100,000 miles on each test vehicle, with the Beta Prototypes, to fully get a base line reference for endurance, strength, survivability, durability, hot and cold weather testing and handling, and comfort in all kinds of roads, with 4 to 6 drivers per car, for solid baselines they can extrapolate to the production conforming prototypes!… Read more »

Sure, Tesla will be testing pre-production prototypes, presumably some months before actual production begins. What we were discussing here is the first actual production units off the line.

and just where are all the anti tesla trolls this morning? in church no doubt…..


Just be patient… They will show up…

Yeah, why Tesla must woo away German experts from Audi and Porsche? I thought Musk could fly to the Mars alone… 😉

You think silly thoughts. This why you still stuck on Earth. 😉


No , Musk won’t fly alone . He will bring a Girl friend…ha!…….

I was in church . . . and I own two Model S’s. Care to revise your statement?

Church is Good..I think more people should attend..Regularly… Cheers!


I just can’t wait for my Model ≡ for Christmas 2017 hopefully 🙂

Did you que at a store in California and plan on having a fully loaded version? 😉

I’m starting a new two year lease this month for another Leaf and I’m already wondering what I will do in the period between the lease ends and I will get my Model 3. I thought about a 3 year Zoe lease instead but there is such a big difference between the cars so I could not settle for a Zoe in the end.

First world problems… 😛

I’m hoping for 1st Q 2018 delivery — I would be happy with that. Still not too sure what I will do with my Leaf lease which is up in December — if they make me a good enough deal I may buy it out and then sell it when my M3 arrives (or give it to one of my kids to beat up). Otherwise look for a 2-year lease on something reasonable.

This is BS and my guess is Mr. Kuphal and everyone else associated with the Model 3 program understands this. They just don’t have a choice but to pretend. They will no doubt “try”, but there simply isn’t enough time for validation and testing. Never has the quote from the Mythological Man-Month been more applicable: “Observe that for the programmer, as for the chef, the urgency of the patron may govern the scheduled completion of the task, but it cannot govern the actual completion. An omelette, promised in two minutes, may appear to be progressing nicely. But when it has not set in two minutes, the customer has two choices–wait or eat it raw.” IOW Elon can announce any date he likes, but these announcements won’t change the actual production date. The choices are that the Model 3 will never remotely hit the July 2017 deadline or it will be a POS. Now the inexperienced and uninformed often think that having Elon demand that it be ready at an unrealistically early date will at the least move the actual production date forward. This has been proven wrong countless times. As demonstrated by the Model S and Model X, the announcement… Read more »

Of course. Whether the emperor has no clothes or not, the first person to say otherwise will be “cut out of the picture.” The program could well be in track, but as nobody would make public statements to the contrary, the statements carry no new information.

I used to think any deliveries before end of 2017 were unlikely, but with a focus on design for manufacturing I think 2017 will be achieved.

At this time in 2011, the Model S was also scheduled to launch mid-2012, and first deliveries occurred in June. The beta prototypes were revealed in October 2011.

Tesla ordered parts for 300 Model 3 prototypes a month ago. They could have them running around testing by October/November.

However, there is simply no way they’re going to ramp up production quickly enough to produce 100,000 to 200,000 Model 3s next year or 500,000 vehicles in total in 2018. That would make Toyota proud. And while Tesla is slowly improving, they’re no Toyota.

Tesla may have an annual run rate of 400,000-500,000 cars by the end of 2018, but they certainly won’t have made 500k cars that year.

I see that serial Tesla haters Don C and 4E are back from church if they ever went.

The bottom line is that Tesla WILL start production of the Model 3 in 2017 and Musk had to reinforce the “put up or shut up” message to make this happen.

Now everybody with a brain understands that the July time frame probably won’t happen and the ambitious early production numbers targets probably won’t happen but, the beginning of production will happen in 2017 and that is all that matters.

Tesla will have at least one assembly line up and running and be working on the installation of additional lines by the end of 2017 so be prepared to be disappointed haters and shorters.

They already made whole two Model 3 prototypes, so by your narrative you may claim production started right now in 2016. No need to wait for what other automakers call “pre-production” from assembly line. Who cares about 0.5 mln/year $35k a piece targets.

Nice strawman. Tesla (and the OP) is clearly talking about cars rolling off the factory assembly line, not hand-built prototypes that have little to do with a factory vehicle. This would be similar to what they did with the Model S (they had 10 production Model S delivered at a June 22, 2012 event; not counting the first one delivered 2 weeks earlier).

The goal would be to do such an event before the end of 2017 (the July 2017 date is only a supplier date).

I fully expect that the assembly line will start early robotic training in April on some of the larger parts in the space reserved for the new Model 3 ‘Assembly Line’! By May, they will be working down to smaller parts, and by June, they will be testing interior installs! So, by (meaning, before…) July 1st, Elon will know exactly who is on board, and who they will be bringing in for backup! July may have some delays, but by Month End they will have some first Production Line Conforming Vehicles available for Crash Certification Testing! Following that, will be some quantity of the Production Line Conforming Vehicles put out for more general testing. Some may be sent to Extreme Heat Climates in August 2017, and some to the Extreme North, as in Norway, for some further Cold Weather Testing; and to Vancouver or Prince Rupert, BC for wet weather testing, as they get a lot of that in those places. Some of them may also go to Hong Kong for similar tests; and some may go to Southern and Northern Australia, also for Cold and Hot testing! Those will be supplemented by Environmental Chamber Testing for full control and… Read more »

I doubt any will go to Right Hand drive countries — they need to validate the left hand drive first where 90%+ of their reservations lie. It would be too complicated to make both R & L drive cars at the same time initially – focus on getting the L done correctly then go to the R

This car is being built to make LHD/RHD differences insignificant. The interior shows that intent. Expect to see RHD specimens at stage 2 reveal to demonstrate this.

Get Real said:

“…so be prepared to be disappointed haters and shorters.”

The stock shorting shills and Big Oil shills which are the serial Tesla bashers online, have to be the most disappointed gang of shills ever! 😀 😀 😀

Have any of their predictions ever turned out to be right? Even one?

I rather Tesla and the suppliers take time to build a quality Model 3 rather meeting the end of 2017 target.

I’m okay with 6 months delay


If you have any cancellations on the test so three please contact me whenever at Jajamiszewsk@ gmail.com thank you

So the partners who don’t make the July 1st deadline is cut out? Then what? Then you are lacking a part of the car and you will need to find a new partner and negotiate new contracts. I’m sure that won’t make it even more late…

That was my thinking too… but then I thought about it some more. Perhaps Tesla has contingency plans. Perhaps its supplier contracts say “If you don’t meet the deadline, we reserve the right to cancel your contract, without any penalty to us, any time within the first two years.”

So for any suppliers who are late, Tesla could arrange a second supplier, and then switch to that other supply when it was available. This would still be “cutting out” the original, failed supplier… just not cutting them out immediately.

The down side of this, as I see it, is that such terms would make it more difficult for Tesla to find suppliers willing to commit to such a one-sided contract, and those who do will likely charge Tesla a higher price because of the perceived higher risk involved.

Your version sounds as if that supplier – if successful – would become the only supplier for some parts of that car.
Rather a juicy prize, don’t you think?
Pretty much worth the risk there, no?

I think the Model 3 will be early not late. All is indicating they really simplify for production friendliness and hold all suppliers under tight control. This is more likely to result in being early than being late. Early production could start in August 2017 and surprise us all for the best.

I agree. Two most common complicated pieces of the car are battery and motor. Tesla is already really good at building both of them and have likely already produced hundreds of the Model 3 version of each. The car is just a “glider”. It needs to be good, but without falcon doors or anything like that, it should be cake.

I hate to tell you. The batteries and motor might be the easiest thing to design and build. Motors and battery packs aren’t rocket science. But building a car you can build at sufficient rates, with high enough quality and make a profit isn’t easy. I guarantee those are the things keeping Elon up late at night.

SparkEV-Fiat500-Leased - M3 Reserved - Bolt- TBD

Exactly. The best part of an EV is the simple and ease of the motor and battery. It’s the common building stuff that’s probably going to delay this. Tesla has limited experience in volume sales –let alone the servicing challenges that are forthcoming. One bad car seat component and then you’re stuck for a few weeks since no secondary line or car to switch over from

I believe, based on comments from Elon and others around the project, that they’re actually moving away from any complicating factors for the III. You’re going to see some fairly standard and stock stuff in this car. Steel body, stock components, bolt-on hardware, absolutely no one-off stuff.

They know that those falcon wing doors (and all they represent) are the exact opposite of what they need to do for the III. Anything that slows production down is going to be left out or designed down.

The battery pack of the Model S is pretty complex. Have you ever looked at the Tesla Motors Club forum thread showing a teardown?


The electric motor itself may not be complex or particularly hard to build, but certainly the power electronics, including the “integrated motor controller” (which includes the inverter), are quite complex and contain much proprietary technology.

Making an energy and power dense battery pack with adequate cooling is not as easy as it seems, especially if you also need it to be as light as possible as well.

The prototypes at the reveal had production-intent powertrains. That much is already done. Some design details for the exterior and interior were still up in the air, and the GUI had a long way to go, all according to the drivers.

Well, it’s good that the supplier for robotic assembly machines thinks they can meet Tesla’s very optimistic timeline for getting the Model ≡ into production. But remember that old saying: “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” That applies to a supply chain, too.

If 99.9% of Tesla’s suppliers are able to get Tesla the assembly machines, parts, and supplies it needs to start producing the Model ≡ on July 1, 2017… that still won’t be good enough. With the exception of standard, off the shelf parts which Tesla can get from a variety of vendors, it has to be 100%.

Of course, as a Tesla fanboy, I certainly hope they can pull it off. I just don’t think the odds are very good. As I recall, even Musk said the schedule was “impossible”.

When the first car rolls off the line is barely important. What really matters is if they can be producing high quality cars at a clip of 2K+/wk by the end of 2017 with a clear path to 5k/wk by mid 2018.

and also to watch how the Bolt is performing!!!!the Tesla brand name wouldn,t be a total game changer…….

just build me a tesla 3 and a 100kw battery for it so I can use it for a week then charge it up and save dollars on elec.

The 100% Electric/ 250 mile range BYD E6/2016 already Has Over 15 Million test miles on it! It’s battery will last 1,000-1,200 life recharge cycles longer than Tesla’s, has 100% recyclable elements, (FE) iron-based, a longer warranty, you can buy 50 of them in a public park Sept 18th in St. Louis, Mo, order 5,000 more cars and have them delivered before Christmas 2016. What did i miss here?

What you’re missing is the fact that the build quality of the BYD e6 is nowhere near good enough to be sold in first-world countries. Here’s a first-hand report posted to InsideEVs not so long ago: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Vexar [post to InsideEVs] April 3, 2016 at 11:30 am I’ve driven the BYD electric sports utility vehicle (the e6) on a test track in the USA. It is roomy, the dashboard layout was extremely confusing, it had problems going 40mph, the sensor read-out was flickering with the numbers and on the far side of the car from me all the way over by the mirror, the drive mode control was non-intuitive (the park button was completely occluded by the directional lever and not marked), the stitching on the leather seats was loose enough to have wrinkles and quirks, and the exterior had an unexplained structural pipe about 8? long in the front left wheel well that nobody understood. The charge port was an unpolished cut-out in the plastic body panel, held on by a loop of flexible plastic and a friction clip. I am quite sure that it was not weather sealed. My BYD experience will forever set the bar for quality… Read more »

“Currently, Tesla is on target to make about 80,000 cars this year.”
“Source: Yahoo! Finance”
On target? Really? After missing their own projections for the first 2 quarters of the year?

Production and delivery rates are different (Q2 had much more in transit vehicles). As of end of Q2, they had produced 33,855 vehicles (15510 Q1, 18345 Q2). Production rates by end of Q2 was slightly under 2000 per week (with plans to ramp to 2200 in Q3 and 2400 in Q4). Even if they maintain the 2000/wk production rate, they would still easily hit 80k cars produced in 2016, so they are well on track for that (only need 46145 vehicles).

The extra production ramp and push for delivery would help them reach 80k cars delivered in 2016. In terms of deliveries they had 14,820 in Q1 (2,615 in transit), 14,370 in Q2 (5,150 in transit). So total 29190 delivered by end of Q2. So basically they need to deliver about the same roughly 51k in the second half to reach 80k for 2016.

Welcome back Jake!