By on April 17, 2018

Tesla Model 3

Tesla has stopped production of the Model 3 again.

That’s the second time this year.

Production problems might not normally make such news – after all, Tesla is a small automaker that’s both attempting to grow and bring a new model, its first truly mass-market model, to production.

But the Model 3 has been much hyped and hotly anticipated. Not only that, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made grand promises in the past.

Just last week, he told CBS News that the current production rate of 2,000 vehicles per week was sustainable and that he expected production to increase by threefold or fourfold in the second quarter.

Instead, the factory in Fremont, California is pausing as Tesla works to “improve automation.

Tesla even released the same statement to news outlets that it did the first time.

Adding fuel to the public-relations fire is that Tesla has made headlines unrelated to production problems in recent weeks. Controversy over its involvement in the investigation of a fatal accident involving one of its vehicles (which had Autopilot engaged at the time of the crash) is another way Tesla is generating headlines. So, too, is the company under fire for how it handles workplace safety, unionization efforts, and the media.

Tesla is operating under an intense spotlight, one that the company itself helped generate. So it’s understandable that Tesla might face extra scrutiny as it works to bring the Model 3 to market. Add in the anticipation over the 3, and any delay is going to get attention.

Based on Musk’s interview with CBS news and one of his tweets, it appears that he feels that over-reliance on robots has slowed production. Whether it’s an issue with how the robots are programmed or the division of labor between humans and robots that’s causing the problem is unclear.

[Image: Tesla]

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26 Comments on “Tesla Model 3 Production Temporarily Halted Yet Again...”

  • avatar

    Did anyone see the CNBC article about piles of Chinese parts sitting outside in the weather at a San Jose machine shop for re-work. The boxes have obviously been water soaked for some time in the NorCal spring weather.

    Are the parts rusting prior to painting, is this OK for parts with electrical components?

    …any ideas??

    • 0 avatar

      I saw it. As an outsider, my first thought was: “This might be acceptable if it was just a couple weeks past Job 1, but this car has been in production for months now; they shouldn’t need to still be sending stacks and stacks of parts out for re-work.”

      • 0 avatar

        Incredibly the CEO was bragging about building “the machine that builds the machine” and putting down other automakers as archaic and lacking in vision. He may have an IQ of a genius but he is still a tool and a narcissist. If he could shut up and focus on running his company we’d all be better off.

    • 0 avatar

      Great article…why aren’t those flawed parts going RIGHT BACK to the supplier along with a squadron of Tesla supplier quality nazis to kick @ss and take names on site? That’s how it works in the rest of the world.

      Is genchi genbutsu another part of the Toyota Production System that Musk feels is unnecessary? You can’t run a mass production car factory like a job shop.

      • 0 avatar
        Guitar man

        Because they need the parts now, not in 6 months time.

        The issue here is a too-aggressive approach to supplier contracts and a “lowest cost bidder” approach, a process that has been known to occur at other auto makers.

  • avatar

    I figured with Musk sleeping at the plant (his words) that quality would improve dramatically, no?

    He’s the Baghdad Bob of car execs. He should just stick to Twitter.

  • avatar

    Maybe he should produce a new robot, or at least unveil a prototype and promise lots of them coming soon.

  • avatar

    At a normal automaker, this would be an unpleasant thing, but would probably be considered the right long-term thing to do to fix persistent production problems.

    But making the decision to do this apparently out of the blue? I don’t get any impression they have any coherent plan for what exactly is they plan on accomplishing during the week, meaning it either won’t do much or it’ll go longer than planned as they try and integrate all these changes onto the line. Unless, of course, the plan isn’t to actually re-arrange the line, but rather to wait for parts backlogs (re-works, late-arriving parts, etc.) to clear.

    And certainly Elon keeps finding new ways to destroy his credibility; the need to do this should have been apparent when they issued their 1Q production report and he could have mentioned it at the time. Certainly saying one week that 2,000 per week is sustainable and then shut down the line the following week is more than a bit of a contradiction.

    What I don’t understand is why he doesn’t find an experienced auto production guy and turn that function over to him; because he CLEARLY has no freaking clue what he’s doing, admits as much, but still insists on micro-managing the process.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “…why he doesn’t find an experienced auto production guy and turn that function over to him”

      I’m sure he has the former, but finds it impossible to do the latter.

      And I think this is the problem with the Model X (doors) and 3 (display), just as two examples.

  • avatar

    “… is it problems with programming
    of the robots? … or is it with labor unionization
    How can Labor be worked 12 hours a day
    and expect quality to be uniform and
    consistent? Ever tried it? (I have – and it’s a
    So Elon Musk is sleeping at the factory?
    Great.(!) I’ll bet he sleeps when he gets tired.
    A luxury his labor force doesn’t have.
    The GigaFactory in Reno is also working
    12 hours a day. They promise 3x a week
    one week and 4x a week the next. But
    “overtime” is only paid after 40 hours – not 8
    per day. Let’s think: every two weeks Tesla gets
    44 hours of work with only 4 overtime hours. $60
    extra pay for work/sleep (that’s right $15/hr)…
    .work/sleep …work/sleep repeat-repeat-repeat… not
    being able to be a functional part of your family
    for the bulk of the month… and in a haze and in
    misery at work…
    Is it any wonder:
    • …quality suffers
    • …talk of union protection starts?
    Most Tesla GigaFactory workers don’t want a
    union BUT
    how can they produce a quality product under
    these conditions?
    PS… this is the labor scheduling at the Reno
    battery Gigafactory. Does anyone know if the
    same is being used for the Fremont factory?
    PPS… A person can drive from San Francisco
    to Phoenix in 12 hours. But it takes a day of
    good sleep to recover. Can you imagine doing
    that same drive day after day? How long before
    an accident?
    12 hour days at any factory will inevitably cause
    quality problems. AND labor problems.
    Yet…BOTH can be easily rectified.
    But Tesla mgt doesn’t even see it.
    Is it any wonder the 3’s production can’t get up to speed?

  • avatar

    Can’t they just buy another car maker like PSA who know how to do this stuff? Their share price would sustain it!

    • 0 avatar

      Musk and Straubel feel they are the smartest kids on the block. It’s painful to admit that somebody else might understand things like the Toyota Production System better than they do.

  • avatar

    More to your point, you can’t pull line workers from the X or S lines to fill in the gaps or bolster production numbers. They don’t know the ins and outs or the nuances of the 3 well enough to be truly helpful.

    Ive said it before and I’ll say it again, if you rush to meet your production numbers come hell or high water, your QC WILL SUFFER. This is an inevitable consequence that will cost them in the long run. Warranty costs are not free and there aren’t enough trained Tesla techs or service centers to attend to all the potential cars that will need to be fixed.

    I was browsing through and came upon their long term test of the Model 3. Id have to say, based on their experiences, I would not consider the 3. Too many software updates, too many small issues such as seat plastics broken, vanity mirror cracked at the factory, constant software updates, and the need for a special tool to jack the car up. What they are experiencing, IMO, is not isolated and will be their next PR nightmare. They are gonna wish for production hell once the QC issues come front and center.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This was a primary reason I cancelled.

      Tesla needs to realize their Model 3 customers are NOT first adopters. This may be their first EV, but they expect car ownership to be drama-free.

      My first VW (2002) and first Honda (2005) had a long list of bugs and failures from the beginning to the end of ownership, and it turned me off to both brands at least until now. As you say, Tesla risks the same.

      • 0 avatar

        The difference, of course, is that VW and Honda are big enough that they can lose a few buyers here and there. Tesla doesn’t have much of a margin for error here.

        I’ve said it before…I think they end up bought out (assuming the stock price comes back to Earth, which I have a feeling is how it’s gonna work), or doing some kind of joint venture with a company that knows how to actually build cars.

  • avatar

    Next headline:

    “Tesla Model 3 Production Temporarily Resumed Yet Again”

  • avatar

    Not sure if its true or not but after the last shutdown I read somewhere “cant find it now” that during the last shutdown it was only the appearance of a shutdown and cars where still actually being made and that this was used to reach their goals for the month and no one could explain it. Like I said it might not be true.

  • avatar

    I got a ride in my friend’s Model 3 the other night. It was interesting. It’s quieter than their old Model S 60. Fit and finish was on par with a typical economy car, as is interior touch quality. I found the big screen just as annoying as I expected too, and it puts out waaay too much light at night. Car is definitely fast, but the ride is really harsh. Seats were OK, I found it kind of cramped. Some vary obvious gap and panel alignment issues. Autopilot did not try to kill us on the drive to dinner and back. So far, it has had to be towed multiple times (was dead on the second day of ownership) and the drive unit replaced. At two months old. Tesla has covered the tows and redelivery (300 miles RT to the Tesla store), but no loaners for 3 owners. He did get a rental covered for the drive unit replacement after much screaming and threatening to cancel their other Model S order. That was on principal, they have two other gas cars, though their son now drives one of them.

    They also just replaced the 60 with a P85D. Though the experience of buying that car and the mechanical issues they have had with the 60 and the 3 have made them say it will be their LAST Tesla. Cutting out the dealership is not what one would hope, evidently. Zero follow through in getting a car delivered in a timely manner, then when they finally got it on a truck, they gave the truck driver an address two states away. But at least it was the right car… Also lots of issues with the trade-in – Tesla had it in their records that the 60 had been in a major accident. He bought the car and had it extensively serviced at the same Tesla location in MA from day 1. It had never had a scratch put on it. But the warranty was up next year, the tax credit is going to evaporate, and he had lost confidence in the car. He does love the car when it works. Hopefully the 85 is better than the 60 was. Rich work-at-home tech geeks…

    Good luck Tesla, if you are alienating your very best customers, you are screwed six ways to Sunday.

  • avatar

    Tesla Model 3: The Saab 2-stroke of the 2000s.

  • avatar

    I think Musk is coming unglued, he just said this in an email to his peeps.

    “Most of the design tolerances of the Model 3 are already better than any other car in the world. Soon, they will all be better. This is not enough. We will keep going until the Model 3 build precision is a factor of ten better than any other car in the world. I am not kidding.”

    • 0 avatar

      All the sudden, my Worst Boss Ever doesn’t look so bad.

    • 0 avatar

      That quote helps to clarify the cesspool Tesla must be to work. He must think this will somehow motivate his employees. It’s probably just met with derision and eye rolls.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually, I can think of one boss I had who was worse than Musk, but it wasn’t Elon’s psycho “work harder…HARDER…HARDER!!!!!!!!” stuff – it was stuff like “I’m going to stuff my shoe up your a** if you don’t close this deal, Jew-boy.”

        I was only there long enough to (thank God) find something else.

        But jkross is right – the bosses I’ve had that sound like Elon generally ended up mocked behind their backs. Most didn’t last long.

      • 0 avatar

        In SV, you change jobs when you start rolling your eyes at your boss.

        Average job tenure is around 2 years there. People don’t stay out of work long — they just play a constant game of musical chairs.

  • avatar

    Another canceled order here.. All the QC issues, plus the fact that Model 3 was obviously designed for sleepers/texters/passengers, not drivers. Forget it.

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