Deliveries of Tesla’s newest sedan, the Model 3, have been slow to pick up. The reason why wasn’t known at first, but it turns out many of the pieces were being made by hand. Tim Higgins reports:
FREMONT, Calif.— Tesla Inc. TSLA +0.37% blamed “production bottlenecks” for having made only a fraction of the promised 1,500 Model 3s, the $35,000 sedan designed to propel the luxury electric-car maker into the mainstream.
Unknown to analysts, investors and the hundreds of thousands of customers who signed up to buy it, as recently as early September major portions of the Model 3 were still being banged out by hand, away from the automated production line, according to people familiar with the matter.
While the car’s production began in early July, the advanced assembly line Tesla has boasted of building still wasn’t fully ready as of a few weeks ago, the people said. Tesla’s factory workers had been piecing together parts of the cars in a special area while the company feverishly worked to finish the machinery designed to produce Model 3’s at a rate of thousands a week, the people said.
Automotive experts say it is unusual to be building large parts of a car by hand during production. “That’s not how mass production vehicles are made,” said Dennis Virag, a manufacturing consultant who has worked in the automotive industry for 40 years. “That’s horse-and-carriage type manufacturing. That’s not today’s automotive world.”
Read more here.