By on May 20, 2016

Tesla HQ

Everyone and their 90-year-old great aunt knows that Tesla is putting all of its might into reaching a volume target of 500,000 vehicles in 2018, but more voices are now calling CEO Elon Musk’s timeline impossible.

Musk wants high-volume production to start in less than two years, but suppliers tell Reuters that the accelerated target is a pipe dream. Will delays in parts sourcing and other nitty-gritty issues throw cold water on Tesla’s plans (and customers’ Model 3 ownership dreams)?

In the past, Musk said he wants at least 100,000 Model 3 vehicles out the door by the end of 2017, and plans to raise (and spend) $2 billion to see that it happens. There are 373,000 Model 3 reservations to satisfy, as well as boosted Model S and Model X demand.

Not so fast, say a number of people in the know.

The Reuters report cites auto production consultant Ron Harbour of Oliver Wyman, who claims the assembly machinery parts could take up to 18 months to source and install. If the full 18 months are used up just getting the not-yet-finalized Model 3’s assembly line in order, it means production wouldn’t start until November 2017.

Industry forecaster Jeff Schuster of LMC Automotive called Musk’s goal “implausible,” pointing to issues in battery procurement.

Musk plans to source batteries from his massive Nevada Gigafactory, which is currently under construction. Any delay at the Gigafactory will hamper production, regardless of whether the assembly line is ready to go.

The materials that make up lithium-ion batteries are somewhat scarce, meaning there could be a limit on the pace of battery production, says Sam Fiorani of AutoForecast Solutions.

Musk plans to pour more cash into the Gigafactory, but a battery savior might gallop to his rescue with more money. Today, Panasonic announced it would speed up its planned $1.6 billion investment in the factory if Musk asks for it.

There’s no end to the skepticism surrounding Tesla’s production target, but many Musk naysayers also give a grudging benefit of a doubt to the man who can land a rocket upright on a ship.

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96 Comments on “Musk Cracks the Whip on Tesla Production, Experts Say ‘Get Real’...”


  • avatar

    I respect TESLA.

    Elon Musk and TESLA and SPACE X are the new NASA.

    We’re gonna make “made in America” mean something again.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      So do I. but neither Tesla nor SpaceX exist in businesses where you can just snap your fingers and make it happen tomorrow. Rushing development of cars and rockets just costs you down the road. This isn’t software or Paypal, they’re expensive goods which are expected to work right out of the gate.

      • 0 avatar
        orenwolf

        Tesla aside, there’s been no rushing on rockets.

        How sad is it that SpaceX is the largest rocket engine producer in the USA now? Almost all other launch vehicles are using Russian-built engines that were engineered decades ago. Part of the problem has been the lack of new development in this arena.

        ULA must be shitting their pants now, their culture isn’t going to let them catch up for a long time, let alone at anything close to their expected pricepoint.

      • 0 avatar

        @JimZ

        You need to read the Elon Musk Biography by Ashlee Vance.

        Rushing the first rocket/launch with SpaceX is exactly what he did. He was laughed at by the established suppliers in the marketplace. Now he is respected by the same people who were critical of his lofty goals.

        Betting against Musk is a long bet. He has a canny knack of coming through on the impossible and proving his critics as wrong.

        There is an additional $2 Billion in money that can be spent with the suppliers who commit to his crazy demands. If a supplier doesn’t want a piece of that pie, that’s up to them.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          why do you feel he needs you to carry his water?

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            JimZ, do you feel any admiration for anyone to be unwarranted and unwelcome? Or only those you disagree with?

            Why is it such an issue for you when people choose to be optimistic or believe that positive change can come from people who bet big or dream big?

            JPWhite is pointing out that Musk actually *did* turn the rocket industry on its’ head and gain a lot of respect from the industry for it. He cited a source for his comments. That’s not wild optimism or “water carrying”, he’s pointing out that he’s been able to deliver before, and may well again.

            Why do you find that so disconcerting?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            there’s “admiration,” and then there’s “hero worship.” the two are different. I admire Elon Musk because of the things he’s accomplished, and because of the things he’s spurred others to accomplish. I am not, however, going to go around online and sing praises to anyone within earshot. Nor am I going to go around and act like I’m awesome because I like a particular company.

        • 0 avatar
          accord1999

          But betting against Musk being late and having poor initial quality is almost a sure thing.

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            I actually agree, accord1999. I fully expect both delays (I mean it’s a new platform and unprecedented scale-out), *and* initial quality issues. I’m personally most interested to see how these are handled, because the one thing I *don’t* expect (and would walk away from entirely), is if Tesla did nothing about either. I don’t think that will happen.

            Now, will the company survive delays or initial quality issues? I certainly can’t say. But my reservation assumes both will occur, and I choose to reserve despite this fact. I doubt I am alone.

          • 0 avatar

            Agreed. Doing the impossible is a bumpy road fraught with delays.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “Doing the impossible”

            Electric cars are “the impossible”? You’re saying this on TTAC?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            He meant “unpossible”.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “unpossible”

            Ah.. a fine but critical distinction.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Electric cars were being built in 1900. How is it impossible to build something now when it was possible 116 years ago?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            PCH,
            If you truly can’t tell the difference between the Elwell-Parker dog cart of 1896 and a modern Tesla, then I don’t know what to tell you.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            So someone is supposed to get brownie points because cars have improved since the McKinley administration?

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            Pch101:

            – How any cars have you owned where the manufacturer offered you real, actual upgrades to your in-dash system and applications? I mean, actual upgrades, not just new maps?
            – How many companies let you bring you car in for upgrades after it was released?
            – How many companies offered to install armour on all existing models to make them more robust, after release?
            – How many companies let you order your car online, skipping the dealership entirely if you wanted?
            – How many companies setup a free, dedicated “refuelling” network *worldwide* for you?
            – How many manufacturers are attempting to literally double the worldwide supply of lithium-ion cells in order to ramp up production?

            Modern electric cars have been around awhile, but lets not pretend Tesla isn’t at least trying to do something different here.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            What is the big deal with Airbus and the A380. It’s not like we haven’t had airplanes since the Wright brothers.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Everybody in the auto business knows how to build electric cars. There’s nothing revolutionary about them.

            Most automakers aren’t enthusiastic about it because it’s a money losing business. Of course, Tesla is familiar with losing money.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @Pch101 – “Most automakers aren’t enthusiastic about it because it’s a money losing business. Of course, Tesla is familiar with losing money.”

            Ouch! Actually, it can be argued most automakers aren’t enthusiastic about it because it threatens their traditional ICE cars, and it threatens their cozy relationship with the oil industry.

            Yes, Tesla is familiar with losing money, but you gotta’ spend money to make money. It’s clear there is demand for an electric car, and if Tesla can deliver, it will change the world, and make a tidy profit those involved.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This notion that automakers are afraid of electric cars is just a laughable conspiracy theory.

            If Toyota could make money selling EVs, then it would. But it can’t, so it doesn’t do any more than it has to.

            And if EVs do become profitable and popular enough to create scale opportunities, then you can bet that all of the major OEMs will jump into the market for more than just compliance cars. And it won’t be difficult for them to do it because they already know how to build them.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @Pch101 – “This notion that automakers are afraid of electric cars is just a laughable conspiracy theory. If Toyota could make money selling EVs, then it would. But it can’t, so it doesn’t do any more than it has to.”

            It’s not that they are afraid. It’s that they have little or no incentive to try. On that point, we agree.

            On whether they can build it when it benefits them to do so, I’m not convinced they can ramp up quickly. Toyota seems emotionally vested in the Hydrogen Fuel Cell. Being a world leader comes also comes with baggage, inertia, and legacy manufacturing. And Japan’s style of decision by committee, while good is some respects, will hurt them here.

            Note that Microsoft’s Zune never came close to Apple’s iPod, a time when Apple was the underdog.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Toyota seems emotionally vested in the Hydrogen Fuel Cell.”

            You guys really need to do your homework prior to offering these grand theories.

            The Japanese government is pushing for hydrogen technology because if it works, then it will create opportunities for a national competitive advantage in a space in which patents, etc. would have genuine value. Fuel cells are complicated and offer the promise of some unique IP value that could flow back to Japan.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @Pch101 – “The Japanese government is pushing for hydrogen technology because if it works, ”

            It may work in Japan, but for the rest of the world, the hydrogen fuel cell has been, is, and always will be… the future. (bada bump)

            The big government push from Japan’s METI is a prime example of management by consensus. Decision making will be slow, and when they realize FCEVs aren’t the solution, it will be too late.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Pch,

            For what it’s worth, I agree with your “they would if they could” explanation of why traditional manufacturers don’t make electric cars.

            Except for Nissan, of course, because they make electric cars in non-negligible numbers. And GM, who will have something available for sale next year.

            Other than those two players, you are correct in stating that traditional manufacturers are incapable of making mass-produced electric cars with a reasonable expectation of profits.

            But if they could, they would. Within 4 or 5 years. If they could get enough batteries.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The primary flaw with EVs is the power storage, and automakers are not in a position to improve that. Since that R&D is more likely to come from university laboratories and the like, the automakers may as well wait until that happens.

            Toyota is in a position to improve fuel cells, so it may as well give it a go. There is some potential upside in owning that IP. There is no upside in building EVs at a loss.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @heavy handle “Except for Nissan, of course, because they make electric cars in non-negligible numbers. And GM, who will have something available for sale next year.”

            On a smaller scale, don’t forget BMW’s i3. And Apple is a wild card.

            @Pch101 –
            The Prius is the undisputed leader in its segment, and Toyota wants to continue making more hybrids:

            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/05/toyota-cheers-9-million-hybrids-sold-hybrid-sales-continue-decline/

            I see Toyota’s lack of interest in the EV as a way not to hurt Prius sales, and that they believe — or rather the Japanese government believes — the FCEV will leap frog the EV. But Toyota’s engineers and scientists must know what other scientists around the world know — while EVs have their problems, FCEVs are not without theirs, which are larger, and with solutions far more distant.

            Edmunds’ has a long term Mirai to test, courtesy Toyota. In part, it’s a compliance car. It also serves to sow FUD about EVs. But in the end, such a test may highlight the limitations of the FCEV.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I AM P!SSED OFF.

          When is TTAC going to either admit or deny that many Ford employee post positive (often glaringly positive, and often contrary to the actual merit of Ford vehicle qualities – or lack of qualities, to be more precise) comments on TTAC, to the degree that they can be described in a fair way as product endorsers for their employer, Ford Motor Company?

          I’m not speaking of people such as Tresmonos, whose insights on “the line” and manufacturing/technical production issues I consider fair and objective (as well as educational), but many others (including some TTAC writers and listed staff members).

          There should be some form of vetting policy for cheerleading comments from Ford (and other manufacturers’) employees.

          And lest anyone accuse me of inventing this problem, whole cloth, here’s Ronnie Schreiber writing about it detail way back in 2013:

          http://www.rokemneedlearts.com/carsindepth/wordpressblog/?p=13484

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “This must have fallen off one of the neighbors’ trees.

            Only nut tree we got is a chestnut.”

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            Why is this in a Tesla thread? I counter your de rigueur protest and point out that bad-mouthing Ford and their products is only second to you bad-mouthing Cadillac overall. Your rants and the need for pre-maturbation simulation has grown old to many of us.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Thanks to DW, posts from Ford and Cadillac employees/reps/spokespersons should be REQUIRED here, just for balance and fair play.

  • avatar
    Yesac13

    I have my doubts.

    But I know this much: Don’t count Elon Musk out.

    After all, he got a rocket to land on a floating platform on the ocean. I think that is harder than making 500,000 vehicles at year. After all, that Tesla factory actually made 500k vehicles in the past – it used to make Toyota Corollas, Geo Prizms (rebranded Corolla), Toyota Matrixes and Pontiac Vibes (rebranded Matrix).

    That factory was one of the worst in the US during the 1970s. Toyota took over it and it became one of the best. I am sure there are still a few old guys hanging around who can help Elon get that factory up to full speed.

    I have doubts but I won’t underestimate Elon Musk.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “After all, he got a rocket to land on a floating platform on the ocean. ”

      no, the engineers at SpaceX got a rocket to land on a floating platform on the ocean.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Who do you think you are to question the legend of Elon Musk? Did YOU land a rocket on a raft in the middle of the ocean with one hand tied behind your back? In a snowstorm? Uphill? Both ways?
        Did you invent the online payment industry?
        Are you so awesome smelling that the perfume industry named itself after you?
        Did you pioneer train travel in a tube at 700 MPH?
        Did you chop down all the trees in the Sahara Forest?

        I didn’t think so.

        • 0 avatar
          orenwolf

          Yesac13 gives his opinion, that he believes EM shouldn’t be “counted out”. He then explains why, and why he thinks the factory being retrofitted could, indeed, meet the production numbers.

          VoGo, you respond by ignoring his points and making fun of, I suppose, anyone with an opinion that differs from your own.

          I’m sorry that hyperbole and sarcasm are all you can contribute to the discussion, and, to me at least, your comment is not representative of what the B&B offer – reasoned, researched and in-depth analysis of the car industry and the events that take place therein.

          You may find your comments better appreciated on Jalopnik. I bid you good day, sir.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Um, Orenwolf, VoGo is on your side. consider that before the next time you jerk your knee.

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            I don’t have a side. I have a deep desire after reading TTAC for years to encourage actual discussion here, not name calling, personal attacks, and making light of people’s genuine opinions, regardless of source.

            I would expect people to do the same to me if I start ignoring the discussion and attacking people, regardless of whether or not they agree with my general points. :)

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            And VoGo is still capable of appreciating the humor of the acolyte’s position.

            Sort of an aco-lite.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Orenwolf,
            Kenmore is right. I like Tesla; I even ponied up $1K as a deposit for a Model 3. But I am also a sarcastic SOB, and can’t resist making fun of just about anything.

            I’ve offered plenty to previous discussions on Tesla, trying – until I was blue in the face – to dispel the usual anti-electric, anti-America, anti-Tesla propaganda common on this site.

            But I came to realize that as a wise man once said, “haters gonna hate.”

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Richard Branson goes to work to make sure my phone has service every day, he’s great.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        You’d be surprised, Yesac13.

        I heard that Elon Musk invented sarcasm, but made it free for all of us to use. He doesn’t even charge royalties, out of the goodness of his heart. Amazing man.

      • 0 avatar
        orenwolf

        False equivalence, unless you’re trying to say that the SpaceX engineers landed a rocket, but he alone is going to get the Tesla factory running.

      • 0 avatar

        @JimZ

        Without Musk those engineers wouldn’t have the opportunity to land a rocket on a moving drone barge at sea.

        I’m sure he’s a bear to work for, but similar to Jobs he has a way of inspiring his workers to do what they don’t believe is possible.

      • 0 avatar
        redliner

        Is Elon the new “Most Interesting Man in the Word”?

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “But I know this much: Don’t count Elon Musk out.”

      Tina Turner was wrong. Some of us really need Heroes.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Deliveries will almost certainly be late and the cars will probably not be profitable. But it’s a safe bet that they will be produced. Musk is annoying, but effective.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yep. I was skeptical of the range and price claims for the Model S, but they delivered (though late.) I just think he got it in his head that once you get your first couple of cars on the market, anything after that can be done a lot quicker.

      which really isn’t the case. I’ll give them a little more leeway since they’re still building platforms up from scratch, but there’s reasons even a moderately-refreshed car program in the industry takes 3 years of development, and it’s not because every other automaker is stupid.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Yeah, he just likes to set impossibly insane deadlines for everything. Realistically I don’t think he’s going to be able to produce 100,000 vehicles in 2017 when there’s no production line at all and not enough production capacity for even the batteries. But I do think he’ll ramp up faster than pretty much anybody else could do it, so if he insanely shoots for 2017 and manages to get 100,000 out the door by the middle of 2018 that’s still a huge accomplishment. Heck, if he gets 100,000 out the door by the end of 2018 I’d be happy enough.

      He always does this anyways, he said SpaceX would be launching into space by 2003 and make it to Mars by 2009 when he founded it-so his timelines are usually hilariously optimistic, but he usually manages to accomplish what he sets out to, even if it takes a few years longer.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Fortune reviewed the Model X, and while they were generally impressed…

    “Fit and finish were disappointing in places. Though my test vehicle was new, the ­weather stripping around one door hung like laundry on a clothesline. And carpeting in spots was poorly glued and fraying on the edges, exposing some wires in the rear cargo area”

    Sooo…maybe iron out the kinks in the existing models before rushing an entirely new one to market, maybe?

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      And lose all those deposits? Already something on the order 13k have been refunded with more sure to follow especially if there are delays and more experienced and knowledgeable competitors are allowed to bring product to market in the same time or quicker.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The Model 3 is already two years behind.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Please show evidence that Tesla projected a May, 2014 launch for the Model 3.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Here we go Vogo, from Wikipedia:

          In December 2007, Honda announced plans to launch a NSX successor by 2010…

          Oh wait, my bad, I accidentally pulled up a Honda/Acura article. You said Tesla…

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @mcs – yuk yuk… Tesla Model NSX anyone?

            It’s an interesting comparison. Honda/Acura are very late, and yet they are still around, and more than just surviving. But production of the NSX will be about 10 to 12 cars a day..

            The average car plant can produce 200k to 250k vehicles per year. And Musk is aiming for 500k? Throwing money at the problem and having workers work 3 shifts won’t cut it. He will face even more quality control issues, which will just cause further delays. There are also things beyond his control such as supply chain shortages. And the temptation will be high to take shortcuts.

            Musk created his own situation. What he can do is reduce the number of vehicles and extend the time frame. Sophisticated buyers will wait for a job done right.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @WheelMcCoy The average car plant can produce 200k to 250k vehicles per year. And Musk is aiming for 500k?

            Fremont was essentially two plants. There were two lines – one was a truck plant and the other cars. How much experience do you have with that plant? Obviously, none or you would have known that. I’ve actually crawled around the place and at one point I had equipment there.

            I have been in plants that ran cars at 80 per hour – and that’s without the automation we have today. Those plants had numbers in the high 400’s in a year. At 80, it wasn’t pretty.

            There is one wildcard that we don’t know about the Model 3 line (which I’m assuming it has its own line) and that’s the degree of automation they’re employing. A high degree of automation and they’ve got a chance. Knowing how the guy thinks, I think that’s what he’s aiming for on the 3 line. If they do it right, they can even use the autopilot to get the things to load themselves for shipping.

            That being said, I do agree completely with your last paragraph that they need to slow things down a bit and stretch the timeline out. I’ve worked on new plants from the time their floors were poured to the point they were in production and have seen the problems that crop up. Still, we’re doing an awful lot of speculating.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @mcs – “Still, we’re doing an awful lot of speculating.”

            I got my 200k – 250k number from a NY Times piece who quoted auto analyst Jessica Caldwell from Edmunds:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/19/business/tesla-to-offer-2-billion-in-stock-to-meet-model-3-production-goal.html?ref=automobiles&_r=0

            Not saying you are wrong; just that I didn’t pull a number out of a hat. 80 cars an hour for 3 shifts will produce about 500k cars in a year. That’s assuming all the supplies are there. And at that rate, how long before the equipment begins breaking down?

            Real emergencies need that kind of a response. The one Musk is facing is self induced, unnecessary, and completely avoidable.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          In 2012, the car was due for a 2015 release.

          Now, it’s supposed to be released in 2017.

          2017-2015=2. And that’s assuming that this 2017 target can be met.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @pch In 2012, the car was due for a 2015 release.

            Where’s the link – or a pointer to the document?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            With all of the time that you devote on this website to providing breathless tributes to Tesla, it’s shocking how little that you actually know about the business.

            There’s this website called “Google” that will lead you to plenty of articles that were published in 2012 about the “Gen 3” Tesla which was planned for early 2015.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @pch101 Just stating the facts. You’re just yet another wannabe amateur analyst that doesn’t have the slightest clue as to what you’re talking about.

            So since you’re such a wizard at google, why can’t you show me the link you’re talking about with a quote direct from Musk or Straubel? I understand google, but I also know how inaccurate and misleading it can be. I think you may have confused an offhand remark as to when the Gen 3 was going to be shown at an auto show with the actual expected ship date of the car.

            Now, I’m looking at an article about the 2013 shareholder meeting and he’s saying 2016. The chart shows 2016-2017 for the Gen 3. Now this is a shareholder meeting, not a tweet or offhand remark or speculation a blogger that may have misunderstood him. The shareholder meeting to me is the official word. And, unlike you, I can provide a link:

            http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1084592_elon-musk-affordable-gen-3-tesla-coming-in-late-2016

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @pch101 Furthermore, I sure as hell don’t research a company via Google. Right now I’m working on actually going inside a pilot battery plant, watching the manufacturing process, getting my hands on a cell, and having it tested myself. Hands on. I walk around businesses and talk to employees. That’s how we do it in the real world.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Much as he hates to admit it, PCH is running on emotion, not logic. We were all promised flying cars, and they are nowhere to be found. The disappointment!

            PCH has transferred all his rage from sitting in his German luxury car in traffic every day over to Tesla.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “I sure as hell don’t research a company via Google.”

            If you were a stock, then I would short you.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      What is it with Tesla’s obsession with weather striping that falls off. They’ve been doing that since at least the S. Even old Trabants didn’t come with weather striping dangling from the door frames.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Honestly, the QC improvements he makes to the Model X can be applied to the Model 3 production process as well so it’s not like doing one thing prevents him from doing the other. It’ll be a simultaneous attempt to improve how they’re doing quality control while trying to build out the production line for the Model 3 and source the necessary batteries while fundraising billions to make this all actually happen. I have serious doubts that he’ll hit his proposed deadline, but then again he moved his own timeline up by 2 years so even if he blows past the new deadline nobody realistically ever expected him to meet it. Might as well just set insane goals that push you to work harder.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    setting himself up for a gubmint bail-out. The EPA or or some other climate change advocates will point to the grand deed that this will mean, and WILL NOT LET IT FAIL. What that means is that our dollars will go to prop up yet another economically / fiduciarilly un-sound business model.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    He’ll need to hire a lot more, er, um, well his contractors will need to hire a lot more $5/hour labor to pull this off. And those aren’t exactly the high-skilled workers I would want to be assembling my assembly line.

    Got my 33-gallon bag of popcorn, so I’m all set to watch this play out. With the record-low water level in Lake Mead that is still dropping, what is going to happen if NV runs out of water (not to mention the reduced electrical output from Hoover Dam) two years from now, how will that affect the battery plant?

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    Musk’s formula for success at SpaceX is to hire young, enthusiastic, non-jaded, idealistic, bright (but not necessarily experienced) technical folks. Then – work them to the absolute limits of their endurance while paying minimal compensation. After a couple of years, clean house and start the process all over again. Steve Jobs pioneered this approach when the Macintosh was being developed in the early 1980s, and it’s successful only if you can get that right segment of workers who are driven by accomplishment.

    I’m sure he’s going to attempt a repeat at Tesla. The difference is that the general public is his customer, instead of government / private launch customers. SpaceX has definitely had delays, but they have been for the benefit of all parties involved.

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      Given the number of people who have literally worked at apple for *decades*, I hope you’re right. Just watch a SpaceX launch if you want to see how his staff feels about the work they do.

      It’s hard to imagine people who work hard for something they believe in, I know. Especially at TTAC. But sometimes determination matched with enthusiasm can actually accomplish something.

      What we don’t know, a few hires aside, is if the leadership is there to hone all this experience into an efficient car-building machine. Time will tell. But don’t assume “young, enthusiastic, non-jaded, idealistic, bright” workers are being exploited for these traits – they are walking in eyes wide open.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        What we know is that SpaceX works their young, idealistic workers 60-80hrs/week. The reason they hire young, idealistic workers is because they’re not married and don’t have kids. Burnout’s an ugly thing.

        Determination matched with enthusiasm and billions in taxpayer dollars accomplishes much. And the near religious belief of a small army of evangelizers.

        I hope SpaceX and Tesla are successful (more competition and innovation is a great thing), but let’s not sugarcoat how it’s happening.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Boo on Musk for hiring hard-working, engaged workers who do amazing jobs!

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            You can’t beat cults for for providing exploitable youngsters.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Consulting firms and I-banks come close.

          • 0 avatar

            @Kenmore.

            Read the Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. He explains the narrow divide between people who are inspired as a group vs a cult following. The former is impressive, the latter an extreme version of group motivation which is dangerous and scary.

            He refers to it as the “Hive Mentality” or “Hive Switch” that drives group think and group effort dislodging individual needs and wants to one side.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            JP, home as I am for the foreseeable future after hip replacement Wednesday, I will attempt to Kindle that book.

            I truly wish some kind of insight into the gleaming eyes and fervent advocacy produced in those like VoGo, otherwise brainy and balanced, by Musk and Tesla.

        • 0 avatar
          orenwolf

          SpaceX is VASTLY less subsidized than the “cost-plus” contracts the rest of the space industry gets. Everyone else gets launch fees PLUS R&D fees. Not SpaceX. They do this do they can control rocket development and secondary payloads.

          The better question might be “why is the only company with resusable rockets, returnable capsules and American-engineered and built rocket engines also one of the few not getting cost-plus contracts from the government?”

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          You must really hate our military.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> You must really hate our military.

            What do you mean by that?

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            Young, enthusiastic, idealistic, long hours, low pay, great accomplishments, hired when unlikely to have familly attachments… I’ve seen that before.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      I see Musk’s master plan for Tesla and SpaceX. Once we land on Mars and settle it, we will need some kind of vehicle to get around. it will be, must be, electric. Now if I can only hang onto my Tesla stock till then. :)

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Mars is where the hyperloop gets built before the zoning laws get restrictive.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Not quite. Musk will install a ludicrous mode on the hyperloop in California which will take it up to the speed of light, creating a wormhole, enabling time travel anywhere in the universe.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            VoGo,
            You sound almost like Peter F Hamilton. Ever read The Reality Dysfunction?

            Great story. “Trains actually leave a station and travel through a worm hole to another world.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            I think we’ve come full loop — I mean full circle. Time travel eh? I’m beginning to see how Musk might be able to produce 500,000 Model 3 vehicles in a year.

            Board of Directors: “Musk! We need these cars yesterday!!!”
            Musk: “They’ll be ready the day before.”

  • avatar
    05lgt

    This all assumes the Gigafactory that 2 in the know investors are pouring billions into is based on last years material science and isn’t a bet to get a jump on something new. I’m not in the know, but I do prefer speculation that doesn’t require me to believe that people who know something I don’t are being irrational with billions of dollars.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Elon Melon’s Sergio enthusiasm is no different than Sergio’s. They are two peas in a pod in the way they run their businesses.

    The big difference between the two is Elon Melon is able to access lots of taxpayer money. But he still needs money, hence this optimistic deadline for the 3 and FCA only is able to access the “normal” taxpayer subsidies/handouts.

    It’s allow about finding money from investors, not production. Actual production is secondary.

  • avatar
    laserwizard

    Every Ponzi scheme starts with the bluster of its leader.


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