Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla is experiencing delays in the production of its first mass market car the Model 3, according to a number of media sources. The manufacturing delays are due to flaws in the production process and quality control systems. The future growth of Tesla as a large scale manufacturer of electric vehicles depends to a large extent on its ability to automate the efficient manufacturing of its mass market cars, while ensuring that these vehicles do not have any manufacturing defects or quality problems.
The Model 3 is the first mass market electric car offered by Tesla and more than 400,000 customers have placed orders by paying a $1000 refundable deposit. The car is being manufactured at the Tesla factory located at Freemont near San Jose in California, while the lithium ion batteries are being made at the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. Tesla had acknowledged that manufacturing of the batteries were a major constraint in mass production of the car, as the lithium batteries were being manually assembled until mid December 2017, and the process was only recently automated.
Tesla had initially claimed that it would manufacture 20,000 Model 3’s monthly by December 2017, however the company has not reached the target and due to quality control problems and the production target was reduced to 2,500 vehicles weekly in March 2018. However the company plans to manufacture 5,000 cars weekly by the end of June 2018. There were reports that Tesla had also shut down the manufacturing facility for a few days in February 2018. While analysts said that these could lead to further production delays, Tesla had countered that it was a routine maintenance activity to improve the manufacturing process.
Past and present employees of Tesla claim that many of the problems are due to poor quality parts which are being received at the plant with up to 40 percent of the parts being defective, which is a very high amount in the automotive industry. They also claim that many of the employees in the quality control department have been hired through a staffing firm, and have little or no relevant experience in the automotive sector. As a result, they are not able to recognize faulty parts. Tesla has countered these allegations claiming that all employees are provided comprehensive training before being assigned quality control tasks.
Media sources like CNBC are also claiming that the vacancies for remanufacturing related positions which Tesla advertised are also proof that the company is facing quality related problems. They also said that Tesla had borrowed employees from part suppliers like Panasonic, to repair the defective parts at its factory. Remanufacturing involves refurbishing the used or defective components so that they can be used in the vehicle. Tesla claims that all automotive manufacturers incorporate some amount of remanufacturing, and only a small number of employees are involved in the remanufacturing process. The company insists that it will be able to supply quality Model 3 cars to their customers as promised.