Troubles for Tesla in production and publicity

Tesla will suspend its Model 3 production in Fremont, California and Gigafactory 1 as part of a “planned period of downtime” to ramp-up future automation and resolve supply chain bottlenecks.

Tesla previously paused its production in February, for the same reason, with a downtime of four days. In spite of that slowdown, the company stated the improvements boosted productivity and doubled cars delivered by early April, just below the Q1 target of 2500 Model 3 vehicles per week.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated in a letter to the employees that the suspension will last less than a week. Within just a few hours of the announcement, investors seemed to lose faith in Musk’s vision of producing 5000 Model 3 vehicles per week, a target communicated by Tesla since August 2017, and Tesla stock dropped significantly on the news. In a recent tweet Musk admitted the company’s ramp-up difficulties and blamed over-automation of the production line as the cause for not reaching his Q1 target.

The production problems add context to Tesla’s interactions with the US NTSB.  Tesla was kicked out of the National Transportation Safety Board investigation on the latest fatal Model X crash for publishing a story claiming that the driver was at fault, not the car technology. Tesla jumped the gun before the 12-18 month NTSB investigation process completed.  NTSB undertakes a high degree of fact checking and independent confirmation, but Tesla seems motivated to get in front of the story with their own narrative of what happened, possibly to quell concerns from investors and car owners.

Read more: The Verge / Bloomberg / The Guardian / TechCrunch / Renew Economy / CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg (2)

Image: NASA / Public Domain – Elon Musk Falcon Heavy Launch

This story is taken from the 20 April 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.