We’ve reported over the past week on the “production hell” that has engulfed the Tesla Model 3. Yesterday, it was reported that Tesla will shut down Model 3 production this week in order to prepare the assembly line for a big ramp in output.
Now, an email that CEO Elon Musk sent out to employees gives some greater insight into what changes the company has in store and outlined a new, lofty production target for the Model 3. For starters, Model 3 production (before the shutdown) stood at around 2,000 units per week earlier this month. Now, Musk is saying that the company will ramp production to 3,000 to 4,000 cars per week in May.
How exactly is Tesla going to (at most) double production over the current rate in a month’s time? For starters, Tesla will move to a 24/7 production schedule for the Model 3, and Musk intends to bring in a lot more carbon-based lifeforms to assemble the vehicles. “This means that we will be adding another shift to general assembly, body and paint,” said Musk in the email.
“Please refer anyone you know who you think meets the Tesla bar for talent, drive and trust. Between Fremont and [Gigafactory], Tesla will be adding about 400 people per week for several weeks.” At the end of 2017, Tesla employed 37,500 workers.
By June, Musk wants a “burst-build” rate of 6,000 Model 3s per week. This means that for at least one week during the month, production should top 6,000. Musk goes on to add that Tesla should be on track for sustained 6,000 units per week production “a few months later”.
“The reason that the burst-build target rate is 6000 and not 5000 per week in June is that we cannot have a number with no margin for error across thousands of internally and externally produced parts and processes, amplified by a complex global logistics chain,” explained Musk. “Actual production will move as fast as the least lucky and least well-executed part of the entire Tesla production/supply chain system.”
It should be noted that as recently as last week, Musk was only targeting 5,000 units/week by July. The 5,000/week threshold is supposedly the launching point for the dual-motor, all-wheel drive Model 3 according to Musk.
Given the slow production ramp, Tesla is gingerly fulfilling its huge backlog of Model 3 preorders. Roughly half a million people put down a $1,000 deposit to reserve the EV, yet only 12,500 have been produced as of the end of March.