Source: Tesla’s “Pilot” Model 3 Body Line Still In Development Near Detroit

Photos, apparently of a Model 3 “pilot team” in “Area 51,” were subsequently deleted by a now-private Instagram account.

Three months ago Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that production of the new Model 3 in “Aug[ust] should be 100 cars and Sept[ember] above 1500.” But over the following quarter Tesla ended up delivering only 220 of its new more-affordable electric cars, or just 15% of Musk’s guidance. Though Tesla’s delivery press release didn’t identify the cause for this dramatic miss, it did state that

“It is important to emphasize that there are no fundamental issues with the Model 3 production or supply chain. We understand what needs to be fixed and we are confident of addressing the manufacturing bottleneck issues in the near-term.”

What does and does not constitute a “fundamental issue” with the Model 3 production ramp is open to debate, but a source tells Daily Kanban that elements of the Model 3 body line are still in development at the Michigan-based supplier Thai Summit America and not yet installed at Tesla’s Fremont facility.

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Tesla’s Tough Road Ahead

The industry zeroes in on the upstart Tesla.

The industry zeroes in on the upstart Tesla.

The Tesla bears are on the march, tearing away at the startup EV maker’s still-sky-high valuation, but not because low oil prices are killing off EVs. Quite the opposite, in fact. As I explained in last week’s Bloomberg View column, falling oil prices will not kill off alt-energy drivetrains for a wide number of reasons, most importantly because it’s one of the few ways to stand out in a sea of commodified internal-combustion engine-powered cars. Though automakers could easily plan a low-efficiency product cycle in response to low oil prices, they are keeping the technological arms race going. And that is Tesla’s real challenge: not a decline in EV interest, but strong competition from established players with more experience building vehicles at scale. [Continue Reading]