And it needs to be worked out. Fast.
Tesla is currently struggling to ramp up Model 3 production in order to satisfy some 400,000 anxious owners. As of just a few weeks ago, only 260 examples had been built. Although Tesla is no stranger to missing deadlines, the Model 3, in short, needs to be a smashing success, but it can't be unless more are actually built. So what's causing the holdup? Automotive News and The Wall Street Journal are both reporting the issue at hand is steel. More specifically, Tesla is having difficulties welding together a mostly steel body.
The Model S and Model X, however, have bodies predominantly made up of aluminum. The Model 3's body is composed of some aluminum as well, but the car's body requires more welding instead of using an adhesive and rivets, used for aluminum bodies. Basically, Tesla employees have to learn a production process which, according to one industry expert, has a pretty steep learning curve. Currently, the Model 3 production line is operating at just one-tenth of its capable speed. CEO Elon Musk previously tweeted that Tesla was in the midst of "production hell" in regards to the Model 3, and he put the blame on unspecified "bottlenecks." Chances are, those "bottlenecks" are welding and steel.
But this is something Tesla must resolve and do so fast. "Before, there was only Tesla. Now, there's going to be dozens of alternatives," Ron Harbour, a manufacturing consultant, said to Auto News. "They're going to have to get really efficient at manufacturing. They have to be cost competitive and price competitive to stay in the business." Wyman is obviously referring to new competitors like the Chevrolet Bolt and redesigned Nissan Leaf. Although both of those EVs aren't nearly as pretty as the Model 3, they're both built by mainstream automakers who know a thing or two about mass car production.