So far this year, Tesla has revealed two big surprises for its forthcoming Model 3, a $35,000 mass-market electric vehicle that will serve up 200 miles of range on a single charge.
The Tesla-for-the-rest-of-us will likely be launched in July, ahead of schedule. That’s surprise number one.
Surprise number two is that Tesla intends to bypass the manufacturing prototype stage and go straight to full production, rolling cars off the assembly line and into customers’ driveways.
“Most automakers test a new model’s production line by building vehicles with relatively cheap, prototype tools designed to be scrapped once they deliver doors that fit, body panels with the right shape and dashboards that don’t have gaps or seams,” Reuters reported.
“Tesla, however, is skipping that preliminary step and ordering permanent, more expensive equipment as it races to launch its Model 3 sedan by a self-imposed volume production deadline of September.”
CEO Elon Musk’s goal is to ramp Model 3 production to 5,000 vehicles per week later in 2017 and then to 10,000 per week sometime in 2018. The run-rate of 10,000 would give Tesla a yearly Model 3 production of 500,000-plus vehicles, when the Model S and Model X are added in.
But even if Tesla doesn’t hit it’s lofty goal of producing 500,000 vehicles in 2018, if nothing goes wrong, it could achieve half a million cars a little later by 2019
For Tesla to achieve this, though, it’s critical that nothing goes wrong.
The big risk
Tesla skipping the manufacturing prototype stage and going straight to full production is risky because something has usually gone wrong with Tesla’s vehicles. There were early production challenges with the Model S when it launched in 2013, and after the overly complicated Model X arrived in 2015, Musk admitted to spending the first half of 2016 in production hell.