Tesla went into a bit more detail about the production challenges it faces with the Model 3 in its letter to investors on the heels of its earnings report for Q3 today. We already know that Tesla shipped only 222 Model 2 vehicles during the quarter, since it releases sales numbers earlier than it reports earnings. But we now have some color regarding the manufacturing details that have slowed the pace of production
Tesla says that it’s making progress regarding “early bottlenecks,” and reiterated that there are no “fundamental problems” with its supply chain or processes. It noted, however, that parts of its operation for the Model 3 including drive unit, paint shops and part stamping can produce up to 1,000 units per week during “burst builds of short duration,” but that other aspects including assembly of battery packs and final vehicle assembly are showing only “burst build” capacity of 300 units per week. Those aren’t constant figures, also, as indicated by the burst build language.
The carmaker also noted that its “primary production constraint” related to the assembly of its battery modules at Gigafactory 1, in the process that sees individual cells packed into an aluminum case to make up a battery module. Tesla says that this has taken longer to get up to volume than has been expected due to the complexity of the part design, and the automated assembly process required to put them together.
Tesla says it actually had to bring in-house parts of the process which were previously done by suppliers of its manufacturing systems, and that this also requires a significant redesign to make work. The automaker says it’s “confident” it can grow the rate of this process “substantially in coming weeks” and can even surpass its original specs for rates for this part.
That said, it’s still not entirely confident how long it’ll take for production to ramp, per the letter, noting only that based on its current info it’ll be able to reach a rate of around 5,000 Model 3 cars per week by the end of Q1 next year. It had targeted production of around 1,5000 cars in total during Q3, so it’s way behind its own previous internal targets at this stage.