Musk is now aiming to produce 6,000 Model 3s per week by the end of June. But what effect will this have on build quality?
It’s no secret the Tesla Model 3’s production has had some teething issues. Elon Musk hasn’t minced his words about it either, describing the situation as “production hell” as the automaker has continually failed to meet production targets. Things have been improving lately however, albeit slowly. Tesla is currently manufacturing over 2,000 Model 3s per week, but that still falls short of the automaker’s goal of 2,500 per week before the end of the first quarter.
That’s still good progress, though – as Musk has pointed out, it took five years to reach that production rate for the Model X and X combined, but only nine months to achieve that output with the Model 3. This week, however, factory production for the Model 3 has been halted for the second time this year since February. The production shutdown will last for four to five days at Tesla’s Fremont, California, assembly plant. “These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates,” a Tesla spokesperson said. According to a report by Buzzfeed, workers were forced to take time off using vacation days or stay at home without pay.
The reason for the shutdown is now becoming clear – Tesla is planning to significantly ramp up Model 3 production and exceed previous targets. In an internal email obtained by Jalopnik, Musk has set a new target of 6,000 units per week by the end of June - an increase of the company’s previous target of 5,000 per week. The reason for the new target is because 5,000 Model 3s per week would leave “no margin for error” across the company’s manufacturing process and supply chain. “Actual production will move as fast as the least lucky and least well-executed part of the entire Tesla production/supply chain system,” Musk wrote in the email.
To achieve this ambitious goal, Tesla will perform a “comprehensive set of upgrades” during this week’s factory downtime to enable Model 3 production rates to increase to 3,000 to 4,000 per week in May. The company will also hire “400 people per week for several weeks” at both the Fremont facility and the Gigafactory in Nevada, while the Fremont factory will operate “24/7” to ramp up production. “Please refer anyone you know who you think meets the Tesla bar for talent, drive and trust,” Musk wrote. Trouble is, the Model 3 doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to build quality, so ramping up production at such an aggressive rate probably won’t improve the situation.