and bulls alike following Tesla's gripping nailbiter of a story -
the company has until the end of the month to pump out 5,000 Model
3 sedans a week - both agree on one thing: the output of the
company's new "tent" structure which Musk erected recently to
produce Model 3 vehicles is going to decide whether or not the
company hits its production goal that it has touted over the last
couple of months.
tent was erected in just a matter of weeks, and came online in
early June, to help the company produce more vehicles at a time
when they are under the microscope. Until recently, we didn’t know
the details as to when it was erected, what the timing looked like
and what it is expected to produce. However, a Bloomberg
article out today helped shed some light
on the details of what is arguably the most important - if archaic
- structure that Tesla has built yet.
Not surprisingly, opinions extend the whole gamut, with some
manufacturing experts claiming the tent is "basically nuts":
Musk has six days to make good on his pledge that Tesla Inc.
will be pumping out 5,000 Model 3 sedans a week by the end of
the month. If he succeeds, it may be thanks to the curious
structure outside the company’s factory. It’s
a tent the size of two football fields that Musk calls “pretty
sweet” and that manufacturing experts deride as, basically,
the tent in Fremont, California, is an assembly line Musk
hastily pulled together for the Model 3. That’s the electric car
that is supposed to vault Tesla from niche player for the
wealthy to high-volume automaker, bringing a more affordable
electric vehicle to the masses.
at Bernstein are equally unimpressed. Here is a quote from Max
Warburton who benchmarked auto assembly plants before his job as a
financial analyst: “Words
fail me. It’s insanity,” said Max
Warburton, who benchmarked auto-assembly plants around the world
before becoming a financial analyst.
Musk's "Hail Mary" is the polar opposite of Tesla's own vision for
its future of state of the art robotics, hermetically sealed
manufacturing facilities and millisecond efficiency.
be sure, the tent is also a far cry from the automation that
investors were promised during the early days of Tesla. The
company‘s goal, which once was to have a state of the art factory
producing vehicles, has now been reduced to a literal tent using
manual labor and spare parts to put together cars. Worse, nobody
seems to even know whether or not the line is up and running.
Welcome to the future?
announced it on Twitter on June 16, saying the company had put
together an “entire
new general assembly line” in three weeks with spare parts;
the building permit was issued on June 13, though the company
could have started working on aspects of the project before
this new line is fully operational is unclear. Company
officials declined to comment. The
Tesla-obsessed users of Twitter and other internet forums have
posted photos and videos and comments either praising or
ridiculing the parking-lot big top. Apparently in response to
the intense interest, the tent has recently been surrounded by
very large trucks, which obstruct the view.
the tent is being called a "hail mary" move by analysts, after the
company finally admitted that its vision for automation and
assembly - pitched as the "most sophisticated in the world" as
recently as February 2018 -was simply "not working":
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
existing line isn’t functional, it can’t build cars as planned
and there isn’t room to get people into work stations to replace
the non-functioning robots,” Warburton said in an email. “So
here we have it—build cars manually in the parking lot.”
Bloomberg notes, an April admission that he erred by putting too
many robots in Tesla’s plants was a humbling moment for Musk. The
chief executive officer had boasted in the past that his company
would build an “alien dreadnought,” sci-fi bro code for a factory
so advanced and robotic, it would be incomprehensible to primitive
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.
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.”
Dave Sullivan, who previously used to supervise Ford factories and
now works at AutoPacific, chimed in: "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.”
article concludes with what may be the most suitable epitaph for
Tesla should Musk disappoint in a few days when he reports Q2
preposterous,” Bernstein’s Warburton said.
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.”
or not, the clock is ticking on Tesla.
company has just days before it has to update investors on the
current state of production and how the business is running. If
the tent is any indication, expect many to voice their
disappointments out in the open...