Everyone and their 90-year-old great aunt knows that Tesla is putting all of its might into reaching a volume target of 500,000 vehicles in 2018, but more voices are now calling CEO Elon Musk’s timeline impossible.
Musk wants high-volume production to start in less than two years, but suppliers tell Reuters that the accelerated target is a pipe dream. Will delays in parts sourcing and other nitty-gritty issues throw cold water on Tesla’s plans (and customers’ Model 3 ownership dreams)?
In the past, Musk said he wants at least 100,000 Model 3 vehicles out the door by the end of 2017, and plans to raise (and spend) $2 billion to see that it happens. There are 373,000 Model 3 reservations to satisfy, as well as boosted Model S and Model X demand.
Not so fast, say a number of people in the know.
The Reuters report cites auto production consultant Ron Harbour of Oliver Wyman, who claims the assembly machinery parts could take up to 18 months to source and install. If the full 18 months are used up just getting the not-yet-finalized Model 3’s assembly line in order, it means production wouldn’t start until November 2017.
Industry forecaster Jeff Schuster of LMC Automotive called Musk’s goal “implausible,” pointing to issues in battery procurement.
Musk plans to source batteries from his massive Nevada Gigafactory, which is currently under construction. Any delay at the Gigafactory will hamper production, regardless of whether the assembly line is ready to go.
The materials that make up lithium-ion batteries are somewhat scarce, meaning there could be a limit on the pace of battery production, says Sam Fiorani of AutoForecast Solutions.
Musk plans to pour more cash into the Gigafactory, but a battery savior might gallop to his rescue with more money. Today, Panasonic announced it would speed up its planned $1.6 billion investment in the factory if Musk asks for it.
There’s no end to the skepticism surrounding Tesla’s production target, but many Musk naysayers also give a grudging benefit of a doubt to the man who can land a rocket upright on a ship.