Tesla Model 3's Design Isn't Finalized; Musk Flings Cash to Kick-Start Production

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

At the Tesla Model 3’s glitzy unveiling, everyone knew the model was a half-baked cake. Now, company founder Elon Musk admits the much-hyped electric sedan still isn’t out of the oven.

Musk said in a recent conference call that the design of the $35,000 Model 3 EV still isn’t finalized, according to Reuters, and the company plans a spending spree to get the model into production on time.

Tesla already has around 400,000 reservations for the lower-priced, 215-mile EV, and plans to begin production in late 2017. Last week, Musk took to Twitter to warn prospective buyers that a delayed order could mean delivery in 2019, despite plans to produce between 100,000 and 200,000 Model 3s before the end of next year.

Achieving a factory output of 500,000 Teslas (all models) in 2018 won’t be cheap, but first the company needs to nail down supplier issues and finalize a design for its mass-market wonder car.

Musk said in the conference call that Model 3 engineering decisions will continue for another six to nine weeks before the model reaches its final design. At the same time, the company is evaluating and selecting suppliers.

Barclays analyst Brian Johnson told Reuters that Musk’s timeline for production, given the groundwork needed, “seems not possible.”

Whether or not that’s true, avoiding the supply issues that delayed Model X production (and led to quality issues) is key to the model’s success, given the anticipated delivery dates for many Model 3 buyers. Musk doesn’t want to start handing back $1,000 deposits as nervous would-be buyers get cold feet.

A delay would damage the company’s brand and send some EV buyers into the waiting arms of General Motors, Nissan, and other electric car producers.

Tesla kept spending low for the first quarter of this year, but the company expects to shell out $2 billion over the rest of the year to boost production capability. One quarter of that cash will be sunk into Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory, which will supply the Model 3’s batteries.

[Image: Tesla Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on May 11, 2016

    @Quentin: (Ran out of reply options above ^^^)... If Tesla reneges on the $35k Model 3, attempting a bait-and-switch for reservation-holders like me, I'll ask for a refund. While I do expect to be drawn in for a couple of options, I WILL NOT buy a $45-50k car. I'm guessing that many others would agree and do the same. It's not that the Model 3 won't be a good car at a higher price, it just won't be affordable. The Model 3's performance and visual appeal are givens. But Tesla's entire future depends on this car's affordability and profitability.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on May 11, 2016

    Good critical 2-page summary of Tesla's ability to hit its goal of producing 500k cars (all models) by the end of 2018: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1103860_tesla-says-it-will-build-500k-cars-a-year-by-end-of-2018-can-it

  • Dave M. The Outback alternates between decent design and goofy design every generation. 2005 was attractive, 2010 goofy. 2015 decent. 2020 good, but the ‘23 refresh hideous.Looking forward to the Outback hybrid in ‘26…..
  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.