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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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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Toyota Launches A Wooden Car

Setsuna-wide

The Ise Grand Shrine, dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu, is the holiest shrine of the Shinto religion. Every 20 years, people tear it down. Then, they build it new, all from wood, without a single nail. They have been doing this for around 1,300 years. Instead of preserving a single structure, the original design, and most of all the skill to build, are preserved from the eroding effects of time. “Its secret isn’t heroic engineering or structural overkill, but rather cultural continuity,” writes the Long Now Foundation.  Now, Toyota does the same with cars.

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Toyota Has Big Plans For Small Cars

Toyoda-Mitsui - Bild Bertel Schmitt

A battle of opinions rages about the future of the auto business, and the sentiments couldn’t be more different.

Two days ago, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said Chrysler would exit small cars to focus on Jeep SUVs, Ram pickups and an electric vehicle lineup. Yesterday, Ford Motor Co CEO Mark Fields said the company could possibly partner with other automakers on building small cars while cheap gasoline makes small cars a tough sell and drives demand for big-iron trucks and SUVs.

More in Forbes

Will Toyota And Suzuki Create A Mini Vehicle Giant?

Osamu Suzuki - Picture courtesy Forbes

Today, rumors that Toyota Motor Corp. might be planning a tie-up with Suzuki rattled the relative tranquility of Tokyo’s auto scene. Suzuki, and Toyota through its Daihatsu subsidiary, are the leading players in Japan’s idiosyncratic “kei car,” or mini vehicle market. So why should you care whether one maker of alleged cars powered by a pint-sized 0.6 liter engine covets another?

More in Forbes

Toyota again world’s largest automaker as Volkswagen concedes

Akio Toyoda TMS 2015 3 - picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

Due to a lack of people who pat me on the shoulder, I have to do it myself. In December, I predicted that Volkswagen AG would end the year with 9,923,000 units delivered globally. Today, the company said that it has delivered 9,930,600 units worldwide for the full year of 2015. In the prediction business, we call being off by 0.08% a bull’s eye. More in Forbes.

Toyota’s new autonomous drive czar worried about “those crazy cars driven by human beings.”

Pratt in Tokyo

Pratt in Tokyo

Who pays, or who possibly goes to jail when something happens is the biggest unsolved problem in the quest for the autonomous car, says a preeminent authority in the autonomous drive field. According to the expert, the infallible, 100 percent safe autonomous car is a fantasy. Autonomous drive will prevent a large number of accidents caused by inattentive humans, but we will have to come to grips with the fact that eventually, those robots driving our future cars will kill people – and then what? [Continue Reading]

Dailykanban declares Toyota World’s Largest Automaker 2015

Number One

Number One

Nine months into the year, it becomes evident that in all likelihood, Volkswagen will once again miss its stated goal of becoming the world’s largest automaker. Nine months into the year, Toyota is nearly 100,000 units ahead of VW, with the gap expected to widen slightly by year-end. [Continue Reading]