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Production Line Issues Are Forcing Tesla To Build Batteries By Hand

Tesla is doing whatever it has to do to stay on target.

Tesla is constantly battling the improbability of its ambitious production ramp-up to deliver its most affordable car to the expecting masses quickly, but it has yet another issue to deal with along the way: damaging reports from the press. Earlier this week, one such report from CNBC detailed how the young automaker would be facing yet another delay as it struggled to get battery production in order. Elon Musk fired back with an emailed statement claiming that Tesla was in fact on target.

CNBC’s report cited interviews with company employees and indicated that quality issues were exacerbated by the fact battery units were being made by hand and that Tesla even had to borrow employees from its partner Panasonic to help with the manual assembly. Tesla claimed that manual assembly wouldn’t actually hold it back from reaching its quality and production targets. “To be absolutely clear, we are on track with the previous projections for achieving increased Model 3 production rates that we provided earlier this month,” said a Tesla spokesman in a emailed statement to Automotive News.

“As has been well documented, until we reach full production, by definition some elements of the production process will be more manual.” Anyone who’s put financial faith in Tesla, either by means of a Model 3 deposit or by buying company stock, will be happy to hear that. Ever since Model 3 production began, Tesla has delayed production targets twice. It previously claimed it would be churning out 5,000 vehicles per month by the end of the first quarter of 2018. That’s now been pushed back to the second quarter, with the company expecting to produce only 2,500 vehicles per month by the end of Q1. Aside from production output, what we’re waiting to see is any updates on how Model 3 quality is coming along.

Previous reports have indicated that the Model 3 may suffer from quality issues and that some models have been shipped to owners with downgraded interiors. Whether those problems can be chalked up to robot error or human failure, it's clear that Tesla still needs to figure out how to do the Model 3 right.

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