Elon Musk loves Twitter and Instagram and uses both to maximum effect. On October 8, he posted a short video on Instagram of the Tesla Model 3 production line “slowed down to 1/10th speed.”
That led to some confusion. Many assumed the video was projected at 10% of its normal speed, but Musk soon clarified that on Twitter.
That is actual speed. It is slowed down right now to confirm build consistency and so that a person can stop the robots in time if something goes wrong.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 8, 2017
Model 3 production — or lack thereof — has become an issue lately. Tesla says it produced 260 cars in the third quarter and delivered 220. Previously, Musk suggested as many as 100,000 Model 3’s could be manufactured by the end of this year. That target seems pretty remote in light of the slow pace of production so far.
Seeking Alpha, a financial analysis firm that tends to be less enthralled with Tesla than most other stock analysts, notes that Tesla has downplayed the slow production rate, saying it is due to a few “bottlenecks” that are being rapidly addressed.
“Although the vast majority of manufacturing subsystems at both our car plant and our Nevada Gigafactory are able to operate at high rate, a handful have taken longer to activate than expected,” Tesla says.
But Seeking Alpha quotes from a recent Wall Street Journal article that presents the situation more starkly:
“Unknown to analysts, investors and the hundreds of thousands of customers who signed up to buy it, as recently as early September major portions of the Model 3 were still being banged out by hand, away from the automated production line, according to people familiar with the matter.
“While the car’s production began in early July, the advanced assembly line Tesla has boasted of building still wasn’t fully ready as of a few weeks ago, the people said. Tesla’s factory workers had been piecing together parts of the cars in a special area while the company feverishly worked to finish the machinery designed to produce Model 3’s at a rate of thousands a week, the people said.”
Hmmm. That’s a tiny bit worrying, is it not? As with all things Tesla, either you believe in Elon Musk and his “walk on water” ability or you don’t. Those who do see the current slow pace of Model 3 production as normal, a glitch that will be cleared away shortly. Those who don’t see it as proof that Musk is a charlatan who has made a fortune out of convincing others to buy into his dreams.
There is little doubt that someday we will see another video on Instagram, one that shows the Model 3 line going at full speed. When will that be? Stay tuned.