Tesla Stalled Model 3 Production Last Month to Get Ducks in a Row

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Tesla temporarily stopped production of the Model 3. Considering everyone keeps wondering when the company will finally reach its first-quarter production target of 2,500 units per week, that’s big news. The Tesla faithful will, no doubt, consider the decision another incredibly shrewd move from the geniuses working within the company, while the opposition will claim it’s further proof that the firm isn’t capable of building cars at the scale it has promised.

Sticking with the facts, we knew Tesla had Gigafactory tooling waiting to be shipped from Germany at the start of February. However, the temporary shutdown occurred between February 20th and the 24th — a bit too early for the equipment to have made it stateside. The suspended production also took place at the main factory in Fremont, California, and not the Nevada-based Gigafactory. Model 3 vehicle registrations also dropped significantly in the days following the shutdown.

Officially, Tesla said it used the downtime to improve automation and address production bottlenecks that have plagued the Model 3 since its launch. “Our Model 3 production plan includes periods of planned downtime in both Fremont and Gigafactory 1,” a Tesla spokesman explained. “These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates. This is not unusual and is in fact common in production ramps like this.”

Bloomberg claimed production rebounded in early March, however, its Model 3 tracking website suggests a very modest improvement since the temporary shutdown. That doesn’t necessarily mean Tesla didn’t put things in order, though. It’s likely too soon to take away anything other than the company saw a decrease in weekly volume last month.

So far as we know, Elon Musk’s earlier assertion that production of the Model 3 would hit 2,500 weekly units by the end of March still stands. However, everyone’s best estimate seems to place Tesla’s most productive week at around 1,000 vehicles. We’re wondering if those production bottlenecks stem from a Gigafactory that’s still missing vital equipment and, if so, how much longer it will be until the parts from Germany arrive.

[Image: Tesla Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Tsoden Tsoden on Mar 13, 2018

    As slow as the Model 3 is to get into new owner hands, at least the car is actually being built... a feat that cannot be shared with ELIO....oy...

  • St.George St.George on Mar 13, 2018

    I wish them all the best. Can't be easy building up a car company (using new technology also) from scratch. At the end of the day, they're shaking things up, employing people (never a bad thing!) and have built up a brand that actually euro-snobs find appealing. I don't get all the hate to be honest. I would be happy cruising around in a Model S, would fulfill 99% of my motoring needs.

  • VoGhost It's funny, until CDK raises their prices to cover the cost. And then the stealerships do even more stealing because they're certainly not taking the hit - why do you think they make all those political donations? So who pays in the end?
  • VoGhost I was talking today to a guy who pulled up in an '86 Camry. Said it ran like a top, got 30 mpg, the AC was ice cold and everywhere he goes, people ask to buy it. He seemed happy.
  • VoGhost TL:DL. Younger people less racist.
  • VoGhost None of the commenters who won't buy from China think twice about getting their oil from Saudi Arabia. They may even be filling up with Venezuelan or Russian petroleum, for all they know.
  • Johnny ringo In a word, no-the usual Chinese business model is to invite foreign companies into China as a joint venture, insist on a 49% share in the company-along with technology transfer and then push the foreign partner out and take control. And now with all the sabre rattling going on between the United States and China over Taiwan and the South China Sea and the possibility of a war, I'm not giving any of my money to the Chinese.