Musk Admits to Factory Sleepovers as Tesla Gets Real on Production Forecast

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

There’s probably no s’mores or ghost stories, but Tesla founder Elon Musk is still a fan of camping out at his company’s Fremont, California production facility.

Musk admitted to giving his sleeping bag a regular workout during a recent earnings call, during which he outlined his production goals for the upcoming Model 3. The optimistic deadline of July 1, 2017 is now viewed as impossible (due to supply issues), but Musk is optimistic that significant quantities of the $35,000 EV will be out the door before New Year’s Eve.

Musk might need to splurge on an upgraded sleeping bag next summer.

Besides sleeping over, Musk said he keeps his desk at the end of the Model X production line, and test drives models to ensure quality control. Quality proved a thorny issue with the automaker’s electric SUV, so his work obsession has utility, even if it might make some workers nervous.

A bigger issue for the company is the matter of turning 400,000 Model 3 reservations into driveway-ready models before prospective customers get tired of waiting.

Musk estimates Tesla can produce between 100,000 and 200,000 Model 3s before the end of 2017, with production of all models hitting his near-term goal of 500,000 units in 2018. To put that goal into perspective, Tesla has delivered 121,820 vehicles over the lifespan of the company.

Musk plans to wring as much capacity out of the Fremont plant as possible, estimating it could be set up to product one million vehicles a year by 2020, but he admits a second North American plant is an eventual necessity. An overseas plant, either in Europe, China or both, would satisfy demand in other growth markets.

A recent management shakeup at Tesla has some wondering if Musk is purging problem staff in advance of the production boom. News of the departure of Greg Reichow, the company’s vice-president of production, and Josh Ensign, vice-president of manufacturing, came the same day as the updated production targets.

A source close to the issue said there is a link between the departures and the quality and supply issues that bedeviled Model X production earlier this year, a claim Tesla denies.

Tesla reported a net loss of $282 million in the first quarter of 2016, but posted a 22 percent increase in revenue ($1.1 billion) compared to the same period last year.

[Sources: CNET, Electrek, SF Gate, Bloomberg]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on May 05, 2016

    If Musk really does have a sleeping bag at work, I wouldn't want to be part of his team, as you can bet he expects all his key people to have the same or greater level of devotion to the cause. . .

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    • Porschespeed Porschespeed on May 07, 2016

      @VoGo MCS, The point is that *Musk* had nothing to do with landing a booster. The 'if only we were allowed to play with money' has been the conversation in NASA and JPL bars for decades. The one thing *Musk* had to do was hire a bunch of people and turn them loose. God knows he has no actual input at the place, seeing how he's camping out at Tesla. Don't forget about SpaceX's failures - they have more than a few. SpaceX is a contractor - so it's cost+. He's guaranteed a profit. But it isn't anywhere near the burn rate of Tesla per quarter, let alone Solar City.

  • WheelMcCoy WheelMcCoy on May 06, 2016

    There's no denying Tesla burns through money ($1B a year?). Yet, it's too soon to measure Tesla in traditional financial terms. I'm not religious about Tesla, but I believe there's room, and a future, for the electric car. (Not so much the hydrogen fuel cell, but that's another discussion). Musk needs to be a salesman, so I understand the theatrics of the sleeping bag. But he's not a con man as many commenters claim. Con men go after easy marks, like stealing retirement money from widows. Con men have insider advantages, like Goldman Sachs who plays both sides and then brags "I ripped their face off!" (Google it.) Producing an electric car is hard hard work, and the road is littered with failed attempts -- Fisker comes to mind. I actually saw 2 Karma Fiskers on the road -- beautiful car, and they came close! So Tesla didn't come all this way without a healthy dose of competition. And new competition appears in the form of the Nissan Leaf, the BMW i3, and the Chevy Bolt. Con men wouldn't bother with electric cars, and I believe Musk is sincere in his efforts.

  • Probert A few mega packs would probably have served as decent backup.
  • Lou_BC Lead sleds. Now-a-days GM would just use Bondo.
  • Jrhurren This is a great series. Thanks Corey
  • Tane94 Not as stylish as the Soul which it is replacing but a practical shape and bonus points for EV only.
  • Ronin What is the magical white swan event in the foreseeable future that will suddenly reverse the trend?Success tends to follow success, and likewise failure. The perception, other than among true believers, is that e-cars are a lost cause. Neither government fiat, nor government bribery, nor even the promise of superior virtue among one's peers have been enough to push past the early adapter curve. Either the bust-out is right now for e-cars, or it doesn't happen. Marketing 101.Even subtle language-manipulation, such as deeming those possessing common sense as suffering from some sort of vague anxiety (eg, "range anxiety") has not been enough to induce people to care.Twenty years from now funny AI-generated comedians will make fun of the '20s, and their obsession with theose silly half-forgotten EVs. They will point out that, yes, EVs actually ran on electricity generated by such organic fuels as coal and natural gas after all, and then they will perform synthesized laughter at us.