By on September 27, 2018

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

When Tesla Motors began production of its Model 3 sedan, CEO Elon Musk announced the firm was entering into a kind of “production hell.” He probably didn’t realize just how accurate a statement that would turn out to be. Already contending with a backlog of orders for the Model 3, Tesla simply couldn’t meet the volume targets it set for itself over the last year. It’s now bending over backwards to finish the quarter strong and prove to investors it is capable of turning a profit.

The automaker frequently referenced production bottlenecks as the culprit for the Model 3’s delay. Panasonic, the sole battery supplier for the vehicle, appears to be taking ownership of the issue. “The bottleneck for Model 3 production has been our batteries,” Yoshio Ito, Executive Vice President of Panasonic, said on Tuesday. “They just want us to make as many as possible.” 

However, it’s not really Panasonic’s fault.

Tesla was short an entire assembly line (which was waiting for pickup at its German manufacturing unit Grohmann) for months. “That’s got to be disassembled, brought over to the Gigafactory, and re-assembled and then brought into operation at the Gigafactory,” Musk said in February. “It’s not a question of whether it works or not. It’s just a question of disassembly, transport and reassembly.”

Ultimately, Tesla decided to ship every piece of the necessary tooling via cargo plane to save time. It was then confronted with production restraints at its facility in Fremont, California. That issue was solved through the construction of an outdoor assembly line, but it created a new problem. Tesla found itself having trouble getting vehicles to the applicable delivery centers due to a lack of car carriers. It now claims to be constructing its own while satisfied customers volunteer at its various delivery hubs.

There’s a lot of moving pieces when it comes to the construction of a car. Not wanting to be a weak link in the supply chain, Panasonic already promised to add three production lines at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory by the end of the year. However, Bloomberg reports that the company said on Tuesday that it wants to push that timeline up as much as possible.

While not responsible for the battery packs themselves, Panasonic is responsible for the cells that go into them, plus much of the associated tooling. The three new lines will bring the plant’s total to 13, with a claimed capacity of 35 gigawatt hours, Ito said. While the majority of its cells will go into automobiles, some are also intended for home energy storage solutions. That’s a part of the business Tesla hasn’t been as keen on lately.

Either way, the new lines should help. Last November, Musk said the Gigafactory was holding back Model 3 volume — specifically the assembly line that packages battery cells, which Musk blamed on a subcontractor that “really dropped the ball.”

[Image: Tesla Motors]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

5 Comments on “Panasonic Attempts to Pull Tesla Out of Production Hell...”

  • avatar

    At any factory in earth: Long term output and quality are largely determined by a functional high quality workforce. The gigafactory in … …near… Reno is working everyone on 12 hour shifts. Four days a week with overtime required often. Let’s think… since when did12 hour shifts become the norm? Well….. It was Nurses who broke ground on12 hour shifts 20 years ago. It works… if kept to three days a week. Four days a week? Well… thats a problem: Any more than 3 days a week of 12 hour shifts tends toReduce quality. Increase worker turnover. And it seriously reduces overall output.
    Can the Model 3 successfully be produced in high numbers??
    With the battery factory and the 3’s various component assembly lines (the Gigafactory produces much more than batteries) and the 3’s final assembly being worked by people on 12 hour shifts. We shall see if this can persist. Running a car company is a lot harder than it looks to outsiders. Detroit made it look easy.
    It isn’t easy.

    • 0 avatar

      “Detroit made it look easy”

      They did? Didn’t Detroit almost die a few times? It’s been kind of a rough past 40 years for Detroit if you look at market share.

      Now Toyota, or even Hyundai-Kia going from complete $hitboxes to being contenders , they do kinda make it look easy.

      • 0 avatar

        Well to be fair Japan and then Korea were developing economies so the whole cheap labor thing helps as well as not having to start from scratch. 20 years from now it will be Hyundai-Kia and Cherry Motors we talk about like Toyota and Hyundai-Kia.

        If Detriot ever made it look easy it had to be from the turn of the century up until the early 70’s. From the mid 70’s on the domestic industry for lack of a better term has consistently had thier ass handed to them.

  • avatar

    I read an interesting article the other day which explained that Jaguar only managed to make 140 I Paces in Austria last month due to production problems! I suspect Jaguar will be free of its own production hell much much more quickly than Tesla but it goes to show that even an established car maker is struggling with electric car manufacturing.

  • avatar

    Production problems listed above dont pass the smell test.

    I think they are making excuses but the real delay was unbuildable design. Munro tear down show real primitive design.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • probert: I think it is a very good looking car, not sure why the writer assumes it is a forgone conclusion that it...
  • probert: just a hint – yes
  • Lou_BC: @SoCalMikester – Yup. My dad would use a rag soaked in diesel.
  • Lou_BC: (where is Ruggles when we need him) Does Satan ever let people out on bad behavior?
  • Lou_BC: You must eat a ton of potato chips to aid in water retention.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber