Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Who Will Build All Those Tesla Model 3 Automobiles?

During last week’s Q1 conference call, Elon Musk shocked the world by saying that Tesla has moved up its Model 3 production goals by two full years. Instead of building 500,000 cars by 2020, now it says it will do it by 2018.
Tesla Model 3
As part of the planning for getting the Model 3 into production, Tesla will finalize the technical specifications for the car by June 30 of this year. The start of production will take place July 1, 2017. What has really set the automotive world on its ear is Musk’s claim that Tesla will build between 100,000 and 200,000 cars before the end of next year.
These are very ambitious goals for a company that is only planning to build between 80,000 and 90,000 cars in all of 2016. Musk has an incredible record for making extraordinary things happen, but Tesla wants to do all this while its production team is in shambles.
Just last week, it announced that Greg Reichow, its vice president of production, and Josh Ensign, vice president of manufacturing, are leaving. Both men were responsible for designing and building the production facilities for the Model S and Model X.
Musk praised Reichow in an e-mail to Bloomberg last week. “Greg and the team deserve a lot of credit for building an all-new manufacturing organization from the ground up and for making Model S and Model X a reality. We’re confident that with the strength of the team, high-quality manufacturing at Tesla will continue.”
Reichow will reportedly stay on until a replacement is found, but Ensign has been disappeared completely. Rumors suggest he is the scapegoat for Tesla’s well known problems getting the Model X into production on time.
So who is going to be in charge of building 4 times as many cars as the company has ever produced and in an incredibly short time? No one knows, but Musk issued a call at last week’s earnings call asking the best and brightest manufacturing minds to please get in touch. “So I really want to sort of send the message out there to the best manufacturing people in the world, we want you to come join our company.”
Musk was at pains to assure people last Wednesday that Tesla is on top of things when it comes to getting the Model 3 into volume production as soon as possible. But as Fortune points out today, not everyone in the industry is convinced.
“You’re looking at a company with significant levels of management turnover at the highest ends, people without experience in the planning, design or build of vehicles, and you expect to crank it up at those kinds of volumes?” asks Michigan based auto manufacturing consultant Michael Tracy.
Musk probably knows what he is doing. He usually does. But the situation at the moment reminds me of the ending of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Asked who will be studying the recovered Ark of the Covenant, Indiana Jones is assured by a government minion that the research will be entrusted to “top men.” Who are these “top men” who will build Tesla’s next car? No one seems to have any idea, including Elon Musk.

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