Tesla's Feverish Production Drive Sometimes Means Partial Assembly at Stores: Report

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
teslas feverish production drive sometimes means partial assembly at stores report

Never has the air of breathless futurism surrounding Tesla taken such a hit. Following a revealing earning report and numerous reports of continuing production bottlenecks, this week wasn’t a good one for either Tesla shareholders or Model 3 reservation holders.

The electric automaker pushed back its 5,000-vehicle-per-week goal to the end of the first-quarter of 2018, rather than the end of this year. Its 10,000-vehicles-per-week goal remains a question mark. Tesla also announced a decrease in Model S and X production to bolster resources for Model 3 builds. In reporting a quarterly loss of $619 million, Tesla made it clear it’s burning through piles of cash in an attempt to smooth out production line hurdles.

Now, a new report sheds light on the frenetic activity occurring inside its Fremont, California factory. One of the claims certainly won’t soothe those worried about a long-standing Tesla concern: build quality.

In a report published by Britain’s Financial Times (subscription required), several people with knowledge of Tesla’s inner workings paint a picture of an all-hands-on-deck operation. The activity isn’t relegated to the company’s Fremont plant, either.

After visiting Fremont in recent weeks, two sources report seeing workers manually operating state-of-the-art automated Kuka robots purchased by Tesla to speed up assembly. Recent job postings point to Tesla’s need for robot programmers, long after Model 3 production actually kicked off.

“I have never seen so much manual labour on a line,” said a source with extensive plant inspection experience.

Other sources report after-the-fact design changes to certain components — something that jibes with a

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  • I_like_stuff I_like_stuff on Nov 03, 2017

    Meh, we'll add another $5 to the stock price. - Wall St, Today I know this sounds cliche, but Tesla isn't a car company. It's a status symbol company. The product can be a complete POS but people will buy it because driving one has status. And that's why the same rules that apply to Ford or GM don't apply to Tesla. It was kind of dumb for Musk to throw out that 250K number, but in the end if it's 250K or 25K won't matter. The sycophants will still be there, ready to hand him their money. See also Apple selling a $1200 iphone whose main selling point is a moving emoji.

    • See 4 previous
    • Lex Lex on Nov 06, 2017

      @APaGttH "ATP is already around $35K and $50K doesn’t get you a whole lot of vehicle anymore." I know is only one datapoint, but I just got a new 2017 CX-9 for under $35K+Tax and fees with very little haggling. Class 2 Autonomy (Radar Cruise control, automatic braking, Lane departure) a fabulous interior and most importantly seats 7. If automakers are charging 50K for mediocre cars, it's because the buyers are enabling them to pull this crap, IMHO

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Nov 03, 2017

    Gee, I thought from reading Fortune that this week Elon was down at the Gigafactory sorting out production problems on Model 3 battery packs. I imagine that Panasonic, who actually run the place because they know how to make things, are so happy that despite a severe head-cold, Musk took time out of his hectic schedule to give them the benefit of his otherwordly genius wherein he's the leading expert on everything. "Move that wiring lead over here Yamamoto, that'll clear it up!" quoth the genius after a solid two minutes of deep concentration. Let me see: battery build problems in Nevada, assembly line problems back in Fremont due to frequent brainstorms of a "better way to do it" which need to be implemented by next Tuesday 3 pm, upset workers who somehow don't share The Vision but just want to be paid an honest wage for an honest day's work, but unwilling to be slaves get fired via "performance reviews". The life of a Visionary who can't be bothered to build on the shoulders of existing production technology, and thus design and hire accordingly, but needs re-invent it at prototype level circa 1922, is hard. Then St Elon has to also juggle the expectations of the know-nothings on Wall Street, people with the engineering experience of Big Al from Oz, the man who informed us the Ford 2.7 V6 twin turbo was a dud, along with F150 aluminum beds. The world is full of people who just don't understand what they don't understand, but are more than willing to inform everyone else of their revelations. Some even impress sheeple. Meanwhile, perhaps Musk needs a course on delegation of responsibility. Nah, sorry, I forgot. That's old school and not like an overpriced iPhone 10 at all, not segment busting, well segment-busting if you believe the PR and don't mind standing in lineups at 3:30 am, so divorced from reality you do stupid things.

  • SCE to AUX I like the concept, but $6k just gets you started. I'd have to outsource the bodywork, which is a real problem on a project like this.Still, the result would be a fun vehicle that reflects what many people want today - a small unbloated utility truck.
  • TheDoctorIsOut Try and keep it as light and focused as it always has been and as analog as possible. For those who can appreciate it (and fit into it) there’s still something special about a car that can be driven at 90% of its potential for most of the daily drive.
  • SCE to AUX Let it die with dignity - no electrification. That would kill the spirit of the original.Mazda needs to think about survival and market share, not tinker with a niche car with waning sales, or dying on Wankel Hill.Maybe their body and paint engineers could help Tesla once Mazda folds.
  • Lou_BC H-E-L-L-C-A-T
  • EBFlex "EBFlex speaks more truth."It's sometimes a burden being right all the time.