Source: Tesla Responsible For Model 3 “Production Hell”

Tesla has been vague about its reasons for missing its first full-quarter Model 3 production goals by more than 80%, blaming “bottlenecks” for the delay and “emphasizing” that “there are no fundamental issues with the Model 3 production or supply chain.” But according to a source familiar with the development and deployment of the Model 3 production system, Tesla’s rushed and disorganized approach made the current “production hell” inevitable.

At the outset of the Model 3 program, Tesla asked a major automated tooling supplier to develop two Body In White (BIW) transfer lines for the Model 3. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity for both himself and the supplier, says disagreements between Tesla’s designers and engineers resulted in numerous revisions to the scope of the contract and eventually led Tesla to drop the second line from its purchase order (PO).

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The indignity! Tesla Model 3 could be out-produced by “fool cell” Mirai this year

Mirai production in Motomachi, capacity 3,000 units per year

Californian carmaker Tesla is close to suffering yet another insult. The company infamously managed to deliver only 220 of its more affordable Model 3 in the two months since production was kicked-off with great fanfare. Should Tesla remain on that pace – and an article by my partner Ed Niedermeyer paints that as a strong possibility –  the allegedly mass-produced Tesla Model 3 could be out-produced by Toyota’s lowest-volume car, the hydrogen fuel cell Mirai.

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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: Production Capacity Of Model 3 To Average 226,563 Units Per Year Over Next Five Years

George Orwell famously wrote that “to see what is front of ones nose takes a constant struggle,” and it turns out that the answer to one of the biggest mysteries in the auto industry has been hanging out directly in front of the public’s nose for some time. In a January 2017 application [PDF] for sales tax exemption (STE) from the CAEATFA program, the California Treasurer revealed that

“Tesla represents the Project will launch the Model 3 and provide the capacity to produce and deliver an average of 226,563 units per year over a five year period, in addition to its Model S and Model X production.”

This revelation provides an unprecedented clarity about Tesla’s production ambitions for its “more-affordable” Model 3 sedan, and contradicts representations that Tesla executives have made in quarterly conference calls with analysts and the media.

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Model 3 Reservation Holder Survey Underlines Tesla’s Mass Market Challenge

 

They waited for reservations… will they also wait for service? (image courtesy Investors Business Daily)

Much of the critical coverage of Tesla Motors, both here at Daily Kanban and elsewhere, has focused on issues that Tesla is able to get away with as a small-volume manufacturer serving an affluent, early-adopter market segment. From manufacturing bottlenecks to quality control problems, from inconsistent, hype-happy communication to poor service, Tesla has been able to weather a storm of problems because its customers and fans are so patient with and passionate about the company. But as Tesla moves from expensive, low-volume cars to the mass market Model 3 these problems are taking on a new significance. In part this is because higher volumes increase the likelihood of quality and service problems, and in part it is because mass market customers who depend on a single car for their daily routine are more demanding than luxury car buyers who can always take the Lexus to work if their Tesla is broken.

Given Tesla’s pattern of releasing cars with insufficient testing as well as its chronic quality problems, it’s safe to assume that the Model 3 will face its fair share of issues. Thus, investing in service infrastructure that will allow Tesla to promptly and affordably repair and upgrade high volumes of Model 3 is extremely important. As Bertel has written about at Forbes, Tesla is behind the curve on those investments and it will cost billions to catch them up. Just yesterday a piece by former Tesla employee Evan Niu dramatically illustrated just how far Tesla has to go to improve its service time, which has dragged on for 8 long months in Niu’s case. Now an exclusive study of about 800 Tesla Model 3 reservation holders, EV owners and luxury brand car owners conducted last year on behalf of a major automaker and provided to Daily Kanban by an industry source, reveals why Tesla’s quality and service woes are so critical to the success or failure of the Model 3.

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CAEATFA Approves 48% Of Record Tesla Model 3 STE Request

Since 2009, the California Alternative Energy And Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA) has handed out more than $100 million in sales tax exemption (STE) tax relief to Tesla Motors, the main beneficiary of the state government program.  Tesla’s latest application, which requested about $100 million in STE on the purchase of more than a billion dollars worth of equipment that the automaker will use to develop and build its Model 3 sedan [previous coverage here], was by far the biggest application in the program’s history and comes as the program faces record demand for tax relief. As a result of this high demand and Tesla’s historical domination of the program, CAEATFA approved just 48% of Tesla’s massive Model 3 request at its December 13 meeting, leaving more than half of its latest request unfunded.

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Tesla Model 3 Development Work Constrained By Tax Relief Program

model3giftdk

Sketchy…

Documents filed by Tesla with the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority and obtained exclusively by Daily Kanban have provided unique perspective on the electric automaker’s ramp-up to production of the Model 3. But there’s more to the story than the production side: Tesla’s equipment purchases are split between production equipment and tooling for the development and prototyping of Model 3, new versions of the Gen 2 vehicles and possibly even other vehicles hinted at in Tesla’s Master Plan Part Deux. This helps explain why the production volume increase from Tesla’s $1.2b investment in Model 3 is so modest, but what does it say about the state of the Model 3’s development?

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10 True Facts From Tesla’s Model 3 CAEATFA Application

model3

When we get our hands on an exclusive document here at the Daily Kanban, we tend to write long and in-depth analyses. It’s just what we do. But because our latest document haul contains some cool facts that didn’t make it into our story and because we’re eager to show off our fun-loving, light-hearted sides we thought we would put together a listicle. Yes, like Buzzfeed. Just a good, old-fashioned list of things you might not have known, presented in a way that won’t take long to read and will hopefully make you smile. Because here at the Daily Kanban, learning can be fun!

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