Tesla Delays Big Rig, Tries to Ramp Up Model 3 Production As Report of Hand-built Parts Surfaces

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
tesla delays big rig tries to ramp up model 3 production as report of hand built

It’s been of week of bad PR and reports that should have Tesla investors tugging their collars and thinking twice, though in Teslaland these well-publicised issues only propel the automaker’s stock even higher.

The company’s electric big rig (aka the Tesla Semi), rumored to have a range of 200 to 300 miles, won’t see the light of day until November 16th, CEO Elon Musk claims. That’s two months after the initial reveal date, which was subsequently pushed back until late October.

The larger problem facing the company is the slow ramp-up of Model 3 production, which kicked off in July, but only The Wall Street Journal claimed yesterday that as late as early September, workers were assembling major portions of the Model 3 by hand, away from the Fremont, California plant’s automated assembly line.

The unnamed sources told the WSJ that because the assembly line wasn’t ready, Tesla created a special area in the plant for the low-tech builds, leading to far fewer completed vehicles. Customers, of which hundreds of thousands already exist, and investors were not made aware of this.

Adding to the controversy are production discrepancies discovered this week by the Daily Kanban. Musk told the media, and thus potential investors, that production would reach 500,000 vehicles a year in 2018. However, in a January application for sales tax exemption from California’s CAEATFA program, the company claims a Model 3 production capacity of 226,563 units per year over a five-year span. Combine that figure with the predicted production of the Model S and X (195,000) and the total tally falls far short of the half-million mark.

In response to queries from the WSJ, a Tesla spokeswoman refused to answer questions, the publication claims. Instead, the spokeswoman attacked the WSJ, stating, “For over a decade, the WSJ has relentlessly attacked Tesla with misleading articles that, with few exceptions, push or exceed the boundaries of journalistic integrity. While it is possible that this article could be an exception, that is extremely unlikely.”

The word “defensive” doesn’t even begin to capture the fury of that statement — a response that isn’t likely to make Tesla any friends in the journalism sphere. Well, maybe there’s one exception.

Tesla Semi unveil now Nov 16. Diverting resources to fix Model 3 bottlenecks & increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 6, 2017

In response to yesterday’s tweet, Musk referenced an earlier statement by saying, “We are deep in production hell.” One commenter asked when those on the Model 3 waiting list can expect official information as to delivery dates, to which Musk responded, “You’ll know as soon as we do.”

The CEO said he expects the online configurator (aka “design studio”) to appear for non-employee Model 3 reservation holders in six to eight weeks. As of now, Tesla is only making one configuration of the electric sedan (the pricier Long Range model), with the only option being paint color.

The upswing in bad PR for Tesla corresponds with a rise in defensiveness from Musk’s most ardent supporters, sending the car company even closer to becoming a de-facto political affiliation or religion. Some would say it’s already reached that point. One thing not impacted by the troubling reports or the fanatical fanboyism, however, is the company’s stock.

Tesla shares began the week trading at $342.52, and ended the week at $356.88. Earlier this week, one Wall Street firm predicted the stock hitting the $500-a-share mark within a year.

[Image: Tesla]

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  • Synchromesh Synchromesh on Oct 09, 2017

    Heh, this is funny, finally saw a model 3 in person today on the road in San Francisco. It was nothing special, looked like a squashed Model S. Red in color with some hipster driving. Really, I don't remember such a yawn-inspiring new car-seeing experience.

    • See 2 previous
    • TonyJZX TonyJZX on Oct 09, 2017

      @mcs as an enthusiast i have three kinds of 'bents' as far as enjoyment goes the v8 6 spd manual the turbo six cylinder w/ 7 spd dual clutch and the Model 3 ev they are all different and all to be enjoyed i could not see a world with only an EV and the 220 miles and no fossil fuels is just more bonuses

  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Oct 09, 2017

    I'm waiting for the first real review of a Model 3. Deliveries to employees and other friendly customers don't count. . .

  • Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
  • VoGhost I'm clearly in the minority here, but I think this is a smart move. Apple is getting very powerful, and has slowly been encroaching on the driving experience over the last decade. Companies like GM were on the verge of turning into mere hardware vendors to the Apple brand. "Is that a new car; what did you get?" "I don't remember. But it has the latest Apple OS, which is all I care about." Taking back the driving experience before it was too late might just be GM's smartest move in a while.
  • VoGhost Can someone Christian explain to me what this has to do with Jesus and bunnies?
  • Del My father bought GM cars in the 60's, but in 1971 he gave me a used Datsun (as they were called back then), and I'm now in my 70's and am happy to say that GM has been absent from my entire adult life. This article makes me gladder than ever.
  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.