Reflections on Tesla's Tent: "Preposterous"
Mike Mish Shedlock
Bloomberg reports The Future of Tesla Hinges on This Gigantic Tent.
Production Goals vs Reality
Musk said about two years ago was that 100,000 to 200,000 Model 3s would be produced in the second half of 2017, and optimism about the car contributed to the company passing General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. by market capitalization. Instead, only 9,766 rolled out in the first quarter—a weekly output rate of roughly 750.
Building Cars Manually in the Parking Lot
>What gives manufacturing experts pause about Tesla’s tent is that it was pitched to shelter an assembly line cobbled together with scraps lying around the brick-and-mortar plant. It smacks of a Hail Mary move after months of stopping and starting production to make on-the-fly fixes to automated equipment, which Musk himself has said was a mistake.
“The existing line isn’t functional, it can’t build cars as planned and there isn’t room to get people into workstations to replace the non-functioning robots,” Warburton said in an email. “So here we have it—build cars manually in the parking lot.”
Crazy Complex of Automation
During a February earnings call, Musk told analysts that Tesla had an automated-parts conveyance system that was “probably the most sophisticated in the world.” But by the spring, it had been ripped out of the factory.
“We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts,” Musk told CBS This Morning in April. “And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”
Buildings? Who Needs Em?
The word “temporary” may be in Tesla’s tent permits with Fremont, but Musk has suggested it could stick around a while. He told one Twitter follower last week that he’s not sure the company actually needs a building anyway. He described the new assembly line as “way better” than the one in the plant that cost the company hundreds of millions.
That tweet spoke volumes to Dave Sullivan, an analyst at research firm AutoPacific who used to supervise Ford factories. “To say that it’s more efficient to build this with scrap pieces laying around means that either somebody made really bad decisions with the parts in the plant inside, or there are a lot of other problems yet to be discovered with Tesla’s efficiency.”
“It’s preposterous,” Bernstein’s Warburton said. “I don’t think anyone’s seen anything like this outside of the military trying to service vehicles in a war zone. I pity any customer taking delivery of one of these cars. The quality will be shocking.”
Congrats to Bloomberg for one of the most humorous articles I have read in a long time.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock