By on March 27, 2008

corkertesla-roadster.jpgThose of you familiar with our coverage of Tesla Motors' struggle to produce a lithium-ion powered sports car know that we believe that they believe every word they're saying, regardless of which side of their mouth their words emanate. But you've got to wonder when the erstwhile automaker's VP of Vehicle Integration [via Just-auto, sub] answers the straightforward question "So when does series production start then?" with the above. (And there I was thinking production meant building cars for customers.) And what about this quote? "There is a danger when you ramp that you keep an eye on the big balls," Malcom Powell proclaims. "But it needs all the balls to build the car; it's no good having just 99% of the parts because you can't build it. So we will control our ramp rate carefully. We will start producing the cars this quarter and we will monitor and ramp as quickly as we can, but under control." So, uh, how many cars, then? "It will be some hundreds of cars this calendar year – we should be running at around 600 for the Model Year." You heard it here, folks: Tesla is [not] fully committed to producing 600 '08 Roadsters– whatever that means.  

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15 Comments on “Tesla Birth Watch 42: “It depends what you call production”...”


  • avatar
    EngineeringTheAtom

    So when does this guy run for public office? Seems like he has the non-binding lingo down perfectly.

  • avatar
    i6

    I don’t mean to offend but that quote is just not believable. Have Tesla never stated that they would ‘produce’ something? Do they know the meaning of the word ‘fraud’?

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    If he was asked, “What percentage of those 600 cars will be delivered to customers?”, I guess the answer would have been:
    “It depends on what you mean by delivered.”

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Is their factory at the same Bay Area location they list on their web site? Somebody needs to go by the factory and take a look for activity.

  • avatar
    becurb

    So, uh, how many cars, then? “It will be some hundreds of cars this calendar year – we should be running at around 600 for the Model Year.”

    Interesting waffling. First he says calender year, then model year. Given that the definition of a ‘model year’ allows a model year to encompass exactly one January 1st, than means they have until 31 December, 2009 to build their 600 ’08 model year cars.

    That, they might actually manage to do. Maybe. As you say, it depends on the definition of “produce”.

    Bruce

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @Landcrusher
    Is their factory at the same Bay Area location they list on their web site?

    It’s not “their factory”. Their cars are built by Lotus in Hethel.

  • avatar

    Their production batteries aren’t delivering the required long-term reliability and performance, and that won’t change for a long, long time.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    “There is a danger when you ramp that you keep an eye on the big balls,” “But it needs all the balls to build the car; it’s no good having just 99% of the parts because you can’t build it. So we will control our ramp rate carefully. We will start producing the cars this quarter and we will monitor and ramp as quickly as we can, but under control.” + “It depends what you call production”

    I would interpret these statements to mean, ‘we’ve got issues with many of the not so major components that are going to require us to re-test, rendering the vehicles we are now producing – prototypes.’

    Well Tesla does have the biggest balls of them all…

  • avatar

    It’s the repeated acceleration requirement that’s placing things on the backburner. With regular EVs there isn’t an expectation that the car will be able to leap from the block whenever you depress the accelerator – with the Tesla, you’re supposed to be able to outrun that Porsche or Ferrari next to you, every single time.

    Trouble is, the power source is a battery pack, and even with thousands of Li-Ion cells delivering, the oomph is soon gone. They must be getting desperate.

  • avatar
    BuckD

    "There is a danger when you ramp that you keep an eye on the big balls…" Although devoid of logic or meaning, the quote above is rich in Freudian symbolism. 

  • avatar
    lewissalem

    They should never have taken deposits. I was listening to a podcast yesterday, and one of the people said his delivery date was sometime first quarter ’09! I understand this is new technology, but I’d be pissed. The question is, will the media finally turn on them?

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    Ramps, balls, electricity, a guy named “Malcolm”…all that’s missing is the British boarding school punch-line.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Thanks, Mike.

    That kind of blows my plan.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Apparently, at first they weren’t going to take deposits, since they knew that this was an experimetal thing and could have production problems, but so many people went up to them, checks in hand, they eventually said, “Why turn away free money?”

  • avatar
    bjcpdx

    Seriously, big balls? I don’t know what that means in terms of automobile production, but I’d say this guy has ‘em.

    His verbiage reminds me of the Condolezza Rice “talking in circles” style. The only thing missing was the term “vis-a-vis”.

    Macolm Powell for (fill in appointed office here) in 2009! This would work out very well for him as I assume he’ll need a job by then.


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