Tesla CEO Elon Musk Calls Excessive Automation for the Model 3 a Mistake
【Summary】Elon Musk aimed to reinvent the manufacturing and production line process for its mass market electric vehicle, the Tesla Model 3. To achieve the same Musk demanded that almost all aspect of manufacturing and production line be highly automated. This resulted in a setup which was almost void of any human intervention.
Elon Musk aimed to reinvent the manufacturing and production line process for its mass market electric vehicle, the Tesla Model 3. To achieve the same Musk demanded that almost all aspect of manufacturing and production line be highly automated. This resulted in a setup which was almost void of any human intervention.
Aspects like quality control and inspection were the only part of the production process which was turned over to the employees. To develop this system, the company invested heavily into designing, developing and implementing production machinery which did not exist before. Over the course of production, it became clear that the lack of human factor will result in not achieving the production objectives the company had set for itself.
The high level of automation and sophisticated machinery was defeating the very purpose it was designed for. This resulted in a drastic change of approach to automobile production and the advanced machinery was swapped for human substitutes, resulting in a sizeable increase of Model 3 production after several delays.
These delays include the downtime in which the production of Model 3 was suspended on numerous occasions. Elon Musk took complete responsibility for the excessive amount of automation via a tweet and called it a mistake. He also went on to state that the involvement of humans is underrated in the production process.
Recently, at its plant in Fremont California, the company suspended production of the Model 3 yet again citing issues on the assembly line. This is the second instance in last few weeks when the production of Tesla's new electric vehicle was suspended. The company stated that the manufacturing has been halted to resolve bottleneck issues and improve automation to aid in production of the Model 3.
There has been no official word disclosing the duration for which the production will be suspended but the company has clarified that downtime like this has been accounted for in the production plan of Model 3. The news of the latest suspension might cause unrest in the market.
Upon opening last Tuesday, Tesla's stock fell 1.5% to $286.48 and even though a stop to production to improve manufacturing equipment and methodology is common, repeated incidents might further affect the stocks negatively. Recently China announced that it plans on amending the foreign ownership restrictions on local manufacturing plants. This means Tesla might be able to finally set up a manufacturing facility in China which it has been pursuing for a while.
A few weeks ago, the production of Tesla Model 3 hit an all-time high and the company managed to produce 2,020 units of Model 3. This volume of Model 3 production exceeded the combined volume of Model S and Model X together. The production team of Model 3 achieved the same production target as the one that was set for Model S and X in nine months, which took them a period of 5 years to achieve.
The first batch of Model 3 was recently delivered to its customers and the feedback suggests that there are some quality issues that the company need to address in both hardware and software space on the new car.
Manish Kharinta is a automotive writer based in the Los Angeles area. He has worked for automotive industry websites TheSmokingClutch.com, CarDekho.com and CarBikeindia.com. His experience ranges from covering auto shows, to car reviews and breaking automotive news. Manish aims to bring forth his unique perspective on automotive design and technological innovations in the automotive industry.
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