Cars

Published on January 21st, 2016 | by Kyle Field

77

Multiple Causes Linked To Tesla Model X Delays

January 21st, 2016 by  

press03-model-x-front-three-quarter-with-doors-openThe Model X has been one of the most anticipated automotive launches of all time. Coupling that hype with the delay machine that is Elon Musk’s calendar and the thing was late. Way late. It had initially been slated for release in early 2014, but after several setbacks, finally made it to the market in late 2015, with only high-level reasons for the delay shared.

A recent lawsuit sheds light on some of the specifics behind the delays tied to the falcon-wing doors. It turns out that Tesla had originally been pursuing a design based on hydraulic actuators for the doors, but due to poor performance of partners, went with electromechanical actuators instead.

First off, the lawsuit has been filed to get the “Court to issue a declaratory judgment” related to the General Terms and Conditions of the agreement Tesla had entered into with hydraulic parts supplier Hoerbiger. Hoerbiger has requested of Tesla additional payments beyond what Tesla claims are owed, hence the request for a formal judgement on the matter.

“TESLA brings this action in order to obtain a judicial declaration that TESLA is not in breach of any contractual obligation to HOERBIGER and that TESLA owes nothing to HOERBIGER. TESLA also brings claims, in the alternative, for promissory estoppel, negligent misrepresentation, and negligence to recover for HOERBIGER’S false representations, on which TESLA relied to its detriment.”

Tesla wasn’t satisfied with just a ruling on the dispute and a formal ruling that Tesla owes Hoerbiger nothing, but pushed further, requesting damages for negligence, promissory estoppel (allegation that the contact was never valid because critical premises upon which the contract was based were invalid), and negligent misrepresentation.

Tesla is requesting damages to be assessed and recouped as part of the additional actions, specifically citing incremental expenses incurred as a result of the actions or inactions by Hoerbiger:

“(i) costs of re-tooling the entire vehicle in order to support a different engineering solution, (ii) costs that were sunk into testing the Model X vehicle that embodied the HOERBIGER hydraulic part, (iii) premium payments that TESLA needed to pay a new supplier to provide alternative electromechanical parts within TESLA’S timeline for production, and (iv) costs associated with the business disruption within TESLA’S sourcing, engineering, and business teams caused by HOERBIGER”

Beyond just the doors, Tesla also struggled with the rear seats, which are technical marvels of their own right. The seats are structurally very unique, appearing to sit on a single podium that allows for full adjustment so passengers can enter the rear row of seating. The production of these seats was eventually brought in-house, which is likely not the most cost-effective strategy if the original plan was to outsource the production. But it was apparently the best solution forward following supplier challenges.

Now that we have entered 2016, it is going to be interesting to see how fast Model X production ramps up and how, if at all, Model X sales impact Model S sales.





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I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. TSLA investor. Tesla referral link: http://ts.la/kyle623



  • ROBwithaB

    20 Questions for Tesla….
    Here is the letter I sent to Tesla’s investor relations dept. setting out my concerns, and seeking clarification on a number of points:

    Dear xxxx

    I have significant concerns relating to the decision to incorporate a number of “innovative” features as standard on the Model X. I am concerned at the level of complexity that appears to be involved in the production of the car, with such a long list of novel engineering challenges, and seek a greater understanding of these challenges.

    I wish to perform an objective risk analysis of the potential consequences of this decision, and wish to know the following:

    1) How many stamped panels are required to manufacture a single “falcon wing” door?

    2) How many individual dies are required to form all these panels?

    3) Including the stamped sheet metal panels, how many individual components are required in order to assemble a single “falcon wing” door, vs a “regular” door, as might be found on a typical luxury SUV? (Or perhaps, for comparison, the rear door on the
    current Model S?)

    4) How many of the individual components for the doors are “bespoke” (in other words manufactured solely for this vehicle) and how many are “off-the-shelf”, being readily available from generic third party suppliers?

    5) How many different individual suppliers are currently required in order to source all the individual components to assemble a single falcon wing door?

    6) In the case of third-party suppliers of “bespoke” components, what is the minimum required quantity to place an order? What is the lead time to supply such order?

    7) What safety systems are incorporated into the design of the door to detect (and prevent accidental pinching/scissoring/trapping of) body parts, clothing, foreign objects etc?
    I am particularly concerned about the possibility of fingers or foreign objects being trapped along the edges of the door near the topmost hinge near the centre of the roof, as well as clothing (eg a long skirt) being locked into the bottom latch, potentially leading to a “dragging” incident for a recently alighted passenger.

    8) What is the default safety protocol for the doors if the systems detect an obstacle or obstruction? (In both the opening and closing cycles)

    9) Should the safety systems be over-sensitive, or should there be a bug in the software, that prevents the doors from closing, is it possible to close the doors manually?

    10) Is it possible to drive the vehicle with either/both of the doors in an open (or partially open) position?

    11) In the event of a failure of any of the actuators, hinges or other internal components of the doors, how long would it take to replace such components, and would it be necessary to perform such work in a service center?

    12) What is the greatest number of open/close cycles that a set of doors on any one test mule was subjected to (with the current configuration of actuators etc?) What were the conditions for the test?
    Were the doors opened separately or simultaneously, with symmetrical loading? How
    many cycles were performed with the vehicle parked on slopes/inclines,
    specifically laterally? How many cycles were conducted in the presence of
    accumulated ice, snow, dust or plant debris (sticks, leaves, seed pods, etc.)

    13) What is the list price for a replacement windscreen for the Model X?

    14) How many suppliers are able to manufacture the current panoramic windscreen on the Model X?

    15) How many cumulative off-road hours were the test mules subjected to that were fitted with the large panoramic windscreen?

    16) Is there any explicit or implicit warranty to the buyer of the vehicle for windscreen damage (specifically stress cracks).

    17) Will the windscreen be available to high street fitment chains for third party fitting, or will such work be done at the Tesla service centers?

    18) What is the list price for a replacement HEPA filter cartridge for the Model X?

    19) What is the approximate cost differential between the current rear seats (manufactured in house) and a typical standard rear seat for a luxury SUV, available from a third party supplier?

    And lastly (and most importantly):

    20) are there any plans to option some of the more novel features on the vehicle,
    rather than making them standard? In other words, would it be possible for potential buyers to configure a vehicle with “standard” doors, seats, air filters and windscreens, at a lower price?

    I realise that some of these questions are rather technical in nature, however you will understand that the answers have a very great potential to impact on the future financial performance of the company.

    I would appreciate a detailed reply, but if this is not possible in the short term, any answers that you may be able to provide would be most welcome.

    Thanking you in anticipation.

    Regards

    Rob xxxxx

    If anyone would like to know why I’m interested in knowing each of these things, please feel free to ask.
    I shall post a reply here if / when I get any sort of response from Tesla.

  • timbuck93

    Great things take time. Maybe some of you use f.lux, well there was the new version for Windows in mid 2013. Then around I think the second or third month, the Mac gets a HUGE update with timing and extra features.

    Windows still has not gotten this update. That’s not a bad thing. If you look at the research page, there is a lot to consider, when to change the screen colors, how much to change them, and how to basically present the idea to the user as to why. It’s not easy, and they are also working on both still, Windows and the Mac version, as well as a mobile version.

    Also during this year, they made a REALLY cool website to go along with what they do, called the fluxometer, and it’s really cool. Unless otherwise listed, they measured all of those things, AND the filters, themselves with 5 digit hardware! They really care about this stuff and want to get it just right! Oh and they are a team of two! If this interests you I’ll throw a link in here.

    Great things take a long time when done right, so just be patient.

  • dogphlap dogphlap

    A car is a complex thing.
    Musk is an extraordinary individual who pushes through to produce non-standard vehicles.
    You pay your money (or choose not to) and make your choice.
    While on balance I prefer simple straight forward engineering solutions that approach does not create extraordinary vehicles like the Model S and X. On balance I love my Model S even with its unnecessarily complex door handles. No car produced in volume is going to meet our desires 100%, I’m extraordinarily happy with my Tesla though (so far no failures, even the drive train gear pairs have been faultless in these early days).

    We were told from the beginning the reason for the falcon wing doors was to have good access to the third row of seats and a bit more style than a sliding door design would give.

    If I were a share holder or Tesla had my $40,000 deposit placed months or years earlier I might feel differently but since I’m not I’m happy to see Tesla push the envelope.
    Musk’s whole career has been spent pushing the envelop of what is possible in the real world and on balance I think he has done an amazing job by leading a team of exceptional engineers and setting goals no accountant would be happy with. To do that means some major hiccups on the way. The best omelets always leave a few egg shells behind.

    And no, I don’t see the X delays foretelling delays in Model 3.

    Maybe Model Y will follow the Model X story of ambitious
    innovative design and consequent delays but the Model 3 has to be released on time and I think it will be (yet another first for Tesla Motors).

    I eagerly await the Model 3 reveal in March 2016.

  • ROBwithaB

    When I first heard about the double-hinged doors, I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard (after transparent toasters, of course. I want one of those)
    And I tried to imagine how they were going to do it, this new and wonderful thing.
    I wondered a lot about the actuators. Figured they would consider hydraulics but abandon it due to the additional layer of system complexity and the lack of precision implied by inevitable pressure loss.
    And that made me think about the challenges for an electro-mechanical system. (Which would be the natural choice for an electro-mechanical car, presumably). And I thought about what the inevitable wear and tear would do for precision, over time. And I thought about how one would design a door so that interior components like screw gears would be easy to replace. And how many spare parts one would need to keep in stock around the world if they ever needed to be replaced. And how many additional parts would be required just to build the door in the first place, and what that whole supply chain would look like.
    And then I thought about how to keep the door closed, and considered a system of guided latches near the base, with perhaps some about halfway down to make it more precise, and eventually decided on active latches at the bottom, but wondered how they would work if the base of a lady’s long skirt were draped across the floor.
    And then I thought about how to add limits to the range of motion of the top hinge, and wondered how to prevent the inevitable play that would arise from wear and tear, and thought of having an actuator with an electronically measured stop. I thought about trying to weatherproof that hinged section along its entire length, with some sort of thin material that could endure thousands of bending cycles and retain its integrity.
    I thought about weather-proofing the roof line, and the path that the water would take once it encountered the rubber seals. And I thought about the scissor action of the top part of the doors, and I decided to install sensors, much like those in elevator doors, to prevent fingers getting caught. And thought about having a back-up system that measured the positive feedback that would occur if there was some impediment to the free travel. and then I realised that one would probably need to do it in both directions. And then I started thinking about how to adjust the sensitivity of the sensors to allow for additional mass due to ice or stuff in the door pockets. And I thought about the hinges, and how one would prevent torsion in the doors if the car were parked on a steep slope. I thought about how to design the support structure for the doors, and arrived at an H-shaped arrangement of box beams. I wondered how to calculate the loading at the attachment points, assuming that the doors might be moving in opposite directions simultaneously.
    I thought about what to do in the event that a fault in any component, or an overly sensitive safety system,or a software error. Such glitch would entail that, for the sake of safety, the doors could not be opened (or perhaps not closed!) until a technician had isolated and solved the problem. I tried to imagine which situation would be worse, and how the customer might react to it.

    I thought about all these things and many others. Because it was a fun mental exercise, while waiting to find out how the REAL engineers had solved the problems in new and exciting ways I could not imagine. And then I thought about them all some more, because the real engineers also need a bit more time, as it turned out. I thought and thought, for a year and a half. I visualised and sketched and calculated and subjected some of my ideas to criticism from others. And eventually I figured it was too difficult a problem to try to solve, and I imagined some normal doors on the car instead. And then a great wave of relief swept over me, as I visualised this vehicle with “normal” doors.
    Those doors worked just fine, as long as I only wanted to put five people into the car. Which is the limit of what I currently do, in any case.
    I imagined this amazing electric SUV and I visualised it with its sleek lines and promise of power, and I saw that it was good. And I waited for them to show it to me so that I could buy one.
    But that never happened. And now I am sad.

    I have absolutely no doubt that the team who developed the falcon wing doors consists of a lot of people who are WAY smarter than myself. I have no doubt that they’ve been able to solve ALMOST ALL the problems that I encountered in my amateurish efforts to come up with a failsafe, reliable design.
    I do however, have some serious doubt about whether they’ve been able to solve EVERY problem. Including those that nobody could have foreseen, that will only crop up in one out of fifty vehicles, and only after three years of driving…..

    • Benjamin Nead

      I don’t want falconwing doors on my car but, now that I know they exist,
      I really do want a transparent toaster in my kitchen . . .

      http://craziestgadgets.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/clear-toaster.jpg

      • Jenny Sommer

        Where can I get that?

        • Benjamin Nead

          After reading Rob’s line on transparent toasters and getting a good chuckle, I googled “transparent toasters” and this was the coolest looking one that came up. I think it’s a prototype that isn’t being produced but, rather, a design study that someone probably did as a college project for an industrial design course.

          • Jenny Sommer

            I did the Google thing too…
            This study wouldn’t work properly anyways with those few, heating loops…
            I like the one with the Bamboo top and there was one heated glas thing where you can slide the cagebin from the side…

    • Carl Raymond S

      Hi Rob. I read your story below, and I do understand how an event can haunt a person for a lifetime, however I will reply to this post which is more on topic.

      I feel at this stage, we still have to give Musk the benefit of the doubt regarding the wing doors. My argument follows:

      Everybody assumes that the model X delays are hurting Tesla. No, they have a mind-blowingly successful model in model S. Tesla growth is maxed. Model X delays hurt the model X and buyers who only want an electric SUV, but they do not hurt Tesla in any major way. Tesla actually needed a ‘delay story’ to keep the luxury high profit model alive long enough to get the gigafactory up.

      You and I and other (mostly USA) readers of this thread know the whole Tesla story, and indeed the EV story back to the EV1 and right back to the early 20th century. I would love to know the stats of a Tesla opinion survey performed by random phone poll. Common worldwide responses would be: “What’s a Tesla?”, “Elon who?”, “ICE – are you calling me a drug taker?”. The falcon wing doors are headline grabbing. Some might notice the lack of a grill on the Model X, but every parent, teacher and student at the school will notice the doors as the kids are dropped off. There’s value in those doors as free advertising.

      We humans/organisms tend to form our opinions about the future based on what we have learned from our past. We know what it takes to make parts with the accuracy of a swiss watch, or the reliability of the landing gear on a jetliner. They’re expensive to make and expensive to maintain, right? In the past, yes, but there’s an increasing disconnect between marginal cost and product quality. e.g. solar panel costs keep declining – whilst solar efficiency keeps going up. Musk talks about the theoretical minimum cost of a good as being merely the sum of the cost of the materials. The rest can be done for a cost approaching zero, where the robots work for nix, and the energy is free from the sun and wind. The robots not only work for free, they self monitor product quality. Nothing gets through that isn’t to spec. Your talk of problems in one-in-50 becomes moot when the human element is removed.

      There’s a bunch of Apple products now where an orange/green light shines from the surface of the aluminium. The trick is the make the metal thickness thin enough so the light shines through! Imagine being asked to make that. There’s no actual ‘through’ hole and the surface remains smooth, leakproof, dirt-proof. These are the tolerances modern manufacturing techniques allow.

      You may be right Rob. If the spec isn’t right those doors may come back to haunt Tesla. I’m just saying that it ain’t necessarily so. I’m content to wait and see.

      • ROBwithaB

        You said: “If the spec isn’t right those doors may come back to haunt Tesla. I’m just saying that it ain’t necessarily so. I’m content to wait and see.” Of course, I’m not claiming that the doors WILL fail. Or the windscreens or whatever. Clearly, it is impossible to make a definitive prediction. I’m suggesting that it is LIKELY, with any new and revolutionary tech, that there will be some sort of failure, somewhere in the design and engineering process, or the manufacture, or the supply chain, or the assembly. I’m suggesting that the RISK of such failure is not commensurate with any potential rewards of making a single-spec vehicle with all the new tech included as standard.

        In order to roll out the Model 3, Tesla is going to need a lot of money. Billions of dollars. Some of that might come from the profits on existing sales (X and S), some might come from borrowing, and some might come from creating and selling additional shares. Billions just to get the vehicle onto the road. Also, if you think about it, if they’re planning to keep growing at
        around 50% per annum, they will also need to start building
        Gigafactory 2 and 3 before 2020. In fact, probably two years BEFORE
        production hits the 500k mark. The first one would need to be ready to
        start supplying batteries during the later half of 2020, so would need
        to start construction during 2018. And the next one about a year later. And they also need to invest in another big factory to make provision for growth beyond 2020. And they can’t wait until the last moment to do that.

        Tesla’s current share price (and thus their ability to source capital cheaply) is predicated upon delivering increasing sales, whilst maintaining healthy profits per vehicle. Based on very rough calculations, the market expects sales of about 150,000 vehicles per annum with a gross profit of about $20,000 each, within the next 24-30 months. If it can’t deliver on those sorts of numbers, expect the share price to take a beating.

        There is a natural limit to the market for expensive luxury sedans.
        The Model S already has a significant share of that market. Growing such share in the face of very aggressive competition would likely yield diminishing returns, eventually requiring discounts, advertising, etc. It is extremely unlikely that Tesla would be able to sell 150k of the Model S per year anytime soon.

        The market for luxury SUVs is a lot bigger than for luxury sedans. (Last I read, about 3X bigger.) Even if it were only the same size, addressing that market allows the company to double its sales. I seem to recall early projections from Tesla that the ratio of sales of X to S would be around 2:1.
        They actually need TWO cash cows to make this thing work.

        In other words, they need to start making the X, in large quantities, soon. They need to sell a lot of them, and they need to make a healthy profit on each one. And they need to be perfect out the door.
        They don’t have months or years to get this right. They can’t afford to adopt a “wait and see” attitude. If something eventually goes wrong, circa 2018, they’re not going to be able to do Ranger visits to 150,000 customers around the world Or even Service Center visits. A wide scale recall would be a logistical nightmare. It would also destroy sales for the S and 3, and likely kill the company.

        The other problem is that some parts of the assembly line (difficult to get exact details) are actually SHARED between Mod X and Mod S. Meaning that any time wasted assembling an X eats into their ability to produce an S.
        The S is definitely the cash cow right now, especially with all the expensive “options” that are mostly software. One would expect the margins to be really high on those.
        I obviously don’t know what the biggest bottlenecks might be on the
        assembly line, and it’s possible that there is some spare capacity in
        the shared parts of the line. But the basic principle remains. Every man
        hour or machine hour spent trying to get an X off the line is an hour
        not spent (potentially more productively) on an S.

        Sure there is advertising value in the falcon doors. But it is most certainly not “free” advertising. And it could be argued that the “Wow! factor” would actually be increased if the hinged-door version of the car were rarer. A few thousand falcon-winged vehicles driving around will be more than enough to get everyone’s attention. If they became commonplace, people would stop talking about them.

        Let us not forget that a “base” Tesla Model X, even with “normal” doors, windscreen, rear seats etc, would still be an extraordinary vehicle, years ahead of its time, and the ONLY long range electric vehicle in the market for at least 4(?) years.
        And, for a significant number of potential buyers, it would actually be a MORE desirable vehicle in a 5-seat SUV configuration than an easy-access 7 seat minivan.

        In short, I have not yet heard any compelling argument against simply providing additional options to prospective buyers.
        #OptionTheDoors

        • Carl Raymond S

          Good arguments. I hadn’t thought about the exclusivity factor being related to the wow factor. I just want everybody to know that EVs are here, and to start desiring one – so that the day they fall within budget, they go out and trade in their ICEV.

          No doubt there’s a bit of “my way or the highway” in Elon Musk – as there was in Steve Jobs. I don’t think it’s possible to be an effective CEO without a bit of arrogance. But Musk has also shown humility – he’s talked about how everybody, himself included, is a little bit wrong and the goal is ever to be less wrong. If the evidence starts to show that the doors are hampering the primary mission, he will adapt.

          But while there is no such evidence, while it’s merely a risk factor, he will take that risk. Risk, he eats for breakfast.

          I do trust that every possible step has been taken to minimise that risk, testing those doors through multiple life cycles and in all types of harsh weather and leaf-drop environments.

          March is not far off. Soon, the talk will all be Model 3 and Model X will be old news.

        • Jenny Sommer

          It would habe been the only long range EV SUV for 4 years if it was released in 2014.
          Audi is prepairing a Belgium factory to start building the Q6 e-tron in 2018.
          The plant produced 120.000 A1 in 2011, current production is moved to Spain. They will also assemble battery packs there.

          It would be good for Tesla if Audi doesn’t get it right from the start. But I would not bet in that…given the expectations of German buyers and the rest results of the R8 E-Tron mules on the Nürnburgring the Audi could very well outperform the Model X….and they still have some time to get it right.

          I understand your concerns about the falcon wing doors. Electric motors and mechanics are trouble. I hope they have really good quality parts and this system will work flawlessly for years…but when I think about electric windows in my last 3 cars.
          It’s not the hinges I would be concerned of but the cables. Especially in cold climates they tend to break. Then you have to replace a whole bunch of cables ( usually the whole lot…it’s called Kabelbaum (cabletree) in German…translater says cable loom or harness). Also electric locking mechanisms just break down. It’s always happened after 6-7 years…

          I’ve read about the Spaltmaße (gap clearance between parts? Is there even a translation for that word) on the first Model Xs in the German Tesla Forum. They say the tolerances on the Falcon Wing doors are pretty good (but still not Porsche good) but the trunk door is not.
          That’s also what a friend who switcht from the Cayenne to the Model S showed me. The doors on his 2015 MS are hanging and apparently they can’t fix that (you can see that the doorline trim has a 5mm step and it’s different on either side) and he expected a better finish and interior. Nevertheless he is very happy with the car. Just sayed you can’t really expect more from them now… American after all (and he’s not even German).
          Maybe the automated manufacturing is not that good an idea after all…at least in that department you can expect something different from Audi.

        • Jenny Sommer

          The German Model X is VIN S00002 btw. and it’s driving around in Ingolstadt (home of Audi).

  • Interesting to see Tesla’s approach in this lawsuit.

    This change in the doors was revealed on the TMC forums for many months ago (maybe 1 year ago), but don’t recall who shared the original info (might have actually been Elon in a conf call) and this does provide some more detail.

    The biggest concern to me last year was the seats, since it was clear they were the final big (known) issue holding up production. I was relieved to hear that Tesla simply took that in house.

    • ROBwithaB

      Stop blaming the Germans. They have enough to feel guilty about already 🙂

      This lawsuit is a distraction from the real problem, which is plainly apparent to a great many people. Rather than getting bogged down in litigation (which is never a good way to allocate management focus and resources), I’d rather see Elon simply walk away from this older, poorer and wiser.

      Sure, the PROXIMATE cause of the problem was a supplier who could not deliver what had been promised.

      But the ULTIMATE cause is that what had been asked was almost guaranteed to be undeliverable.

      It’s very simple. The car is overly complicated.
      Completely unnecessarily, expensively, time-consumingly, distractingly, frustratingly (and probably unfixably) complex.
      A b!tc# to source components for, a b!tc# to assemble, and a b!tc# to maintain. The sort of car that assembly-line workers eventually start to hate with a visceral passion, and customers too, eventually.

      Tesla can blame anyone and everyone they can think of when the inevitable happens and deadlines and promises are broken.
      Or maybe the boss can just man up and take the blame himself. Good leaders, smart leaders, sometimes need to admit that they’ve made a mistake.
      I know Elon almost kinda sorta tried to admit it once or twice before.
      But now it’s time just to risk whatever public ridicule and criticism might come his way, and admit that he was wrong to insist on those doors. (And by association the seats, the windscreen and the HEPA filter.)
      By all means, let them be available, at a price, for whoever wants them. But don’t hold the entire production line to ransom by insisting that every single X off the line needs to have all the gimmicks or none at all.
      Let people decide for themselves which features they want.

      #OptionTheDoors

  • ROBwithaB

    Once, when I was still a little kid, I was sitting on the beach, watching the waves. Something caught my attention and made me turn around to look at the thriving holiday town behind me, with it’s main road running parallel to the shore. There was a busy pedestrian crossing allowing people an easy route from the hotels, restaurants, etc on the other side directly to the beach. It was a sunny day, everyone seemed happy and relaxed.
    Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a car speeding along the promenade. There were many people in its path, crossing the street, laughing, talking to each other, their gaze fixed on the cool water of the ocean awaiting them.
    Instantly, even without an understanding of the physics of mass, velocity and deceleration, I knew that they would not be able to stop in time. Suddenly, my world paused, and everything started to happen in slow motion. Nobody else seemed to have noticed the speeding car.
    Instinctively, I screamed. Loudly. As loudly as a little kid could possibly scream, knowing that somebody was about to die and screaming was the only thing I could could do to save them.
    But I was just a little kid. And the waves were crashing onto the beach behind me. And I realised that lots of other kids were screaming and hollering and running about, all over the busy beach, all caught up in their own games and imagination.

    But I kept on screaming. Even louder than before. Even though I realised that it was futile. Because there was nothing else I could do. Maybe, just maybe, some adult or policeman or superhero would see what was happening and would swoop down to save the day.

    Of course, there was no superhero.
    In the painstaking slow-motion of my time-warped, helpless terror, I watched the car hurtle towards the oblivious pedestrians. At the last moment, a screech of tyres punctuated my screams. But it was much too late. Just enough time for the pedestrians to turn their heads towards the danger, and glimpse the inevitability of what was about to happen.
    And then the thud. An unmistakable sound that I will never forget. Exactly what you think it would sound like, when a ton of metal and glass pounds into soft human flesh and skeleton. The last-second swerve had allowed the driver to miss the heaviest throng of people. Some seemed to be pushed aside violently, like dust bunnies spurting away beside an urgent broom. By then, everybody had started screaming. Hundreds of people. All eyes focused on the horror. But it was too already late.

    Like some weird cartoon stuffed animal, a lady was flying through the air. Higher than you would imagine possible. Already broken. Doing some kind of strange dance I didn’t understand. Flying. Weightless. Like magic. And everything seemed to go perfectly quiet again, as everybody stared. Hundreds of pairs of eyes watching in silent incomprehension, this surreal lady-balloon, floating into the sky.

    And then the next thud. Exactly as you would imagine it. A chubby, broken, lifeless body dropped onto the flat oily tarmac of the road. No other sound.
    And then everyone started screaming again. And I started crying. And I did not stop crying. Not when the ambulance arrived, or when it went away, or when the coroner arrived. Eventually the adults realised that, despite their morbid curiosity, they should probably take us home. And eventually I stopped crying, because I was a kid and luckily we can get distracted by chocolates and toys and card games.
    And so the day at the beach ended.

    But it never really ended.
    Those sounds and images have haunted me for almost half a century. A movie clip that crops up unannounced every so often and replays itself, over and over, in my dreams, until today. And sometimes, in the darkness, a grown man still cries.

    Because I saw it all coming. And I was the only one who could have done something. And I wasn’t able to scream loudly enough.

    THAT is what this thing with the falcon wing doors feels like to me now….

    (Apologies to Bob et al for the childhood memories, but it is relevant to the article. Tragically, maddeningly relevant, potentially…)

    • Ivor O’Connor

      Quite a story. Why weren’t those people looking for vehicles before crossing the street?

      Reminds me of this idiot kid earlier this week. I wanted to turn right but I saw him on his skate board with his ear buds plugged in on the sidewalk. I knew there was a good chance the idiot would not stop or look and just barrel through the intersection. With my expectations already in place I wasn’t surprised as the 17 year old went flying across the road where I would have hit him if I had not been pro-actively paying attention.

      When is a Darwinian award a good thing and not a tragedy?

      • ROBwithaB

        As much as I often have the desire to hasten the evolutionary process by means of some selective culling, the more socially-aware part of my brain reminds me that I have a moral duty to try to limit harm as much as possible; to make the world a better place, and let God/evolution decide the winners and losers.
        The good part of my brain usually wins the argument.
        Usually…

        P.S. I hope everyone realised that the long story about my childhood memory was actually a metaphor for the unnecessary-complexity debacle I see unfolding before me w.r.t. the Model X.
        IMHO, this single stubborn decision to retain the over-engineered version of the car, and ONLY that version, has the potential to kill the company.
        (Despite the dream-like metaphorical nature of the story, the pedestrian fatality incident itself was very real, and very traumatic.)

      • ROBwithaB

        Maybe because they felt safe in the “herd”.
        Maybe because they were using a very well-demarcated and signposted pedestrian crossing across the main street of the Strand, that had been there for years and that every local motorist was familiar with and knew to slow down for.
        Dunno how it works elsewhere but in S. Africa, cars MUST stop for people on “Zebra” crossings. It’s the law.
        In other words, on a demarcated pedestrian crossing, pedestrians have right of way. Absolutely, unequivocally.
        Admittedly, such legal certitude doesn’t help you when you’re already dead.

        I tend to look both ways whenever I cross a street by any means, foot, bike or car, even when the light is green. But I’ve noticed that many people don’t.

        I like the idea of iPods etc with embedded devices that can communicate directly with cars, within a range of perhaps 10-50 metres. The louder the volume is turned up, the bigger the range. Car gets the message “Pedestrian distracted by loud music” and can react appropriately.
        Actually, I’d want to see something similar for the blind and/or deaf, old folks, kids, pets, certified drunks, etc. Something that can be sewn into the lining of every schoolkid’s backpack, or incorporated into a dog collar or a white cane. Anyone vulnerable and/or likely to do something unpredictable in traffic. The car senses the presence of such person next to the road up ahead and perhaps slows down a little in anticipation. The moment the car senses that the person has moved onto the road surface itself, it hoots the horn and slows down even further, or just hits the brakes.
        Maybe even… a transponder that emits a specific frequency depending on the type of handicap. The cars (through swarm learning) will quickly build up a complex picture of how the various categories of vulnerable people behave. Overlaid with concurrent information from the cameras, radar, etc, it seems like a very good way of refining the car’s predictive abilities.

        Once cars can communicate freely, getting them to avoid crashing into each other is pretty easy. But getting them to avoid crashing into pedestrians and other soft (and often stupid, unpredictable) things is a lot more difficult. Hopefully one of the electrical engineers on here can refine my idea a little further. (Or just shoot it out of the water completely….)

        Anyway… A bit off topic, perhaps.
        (Sorry, Bob. Was just answering a question from Ivor. Don’t revoke my rights, SVP.)

        • Ivor O’Connor

          The laws in the States are about the same. Maybe a bit more draconian. Here you must wait for the person to step off the zebra crosswalk and onto the sidewalk before crossing with your car. I myself would prefer no lights and no crosswalks and instead have something like the proverbial Italian madness. I don’t want to have Mayor Julianne’s thugs ticket me for jay walking nor get ticketed for driving. Common sense is all we need but, well, we don’t seem to have enough according to our legislators.

    • Benjamin Nead

      But, you know, Rob, that the horrible accident you described (I see now, thankfully, that it was creative fiction) would have been averted if the car had falconwing doors!

      Think, for a moment, if the vehicle’s doors could have opened while speeding on collision course and a caped superhero would jump out, flying ahead to snatch the victim off the road before the tragedy could occur. By damn, this sort of thing is far more difficult in lesser vehicles with conventionally hinged doors.

      Also . . . the part of the story where everyone was distracted by watching that rocket booster landing tail first on that ocean barge? If those things were simply allowed to burn up in the atmosphere, like lesser rockets, those people would be paying far greater heed to oncoming traffic.

      Just sayin’ . . .

      • ROBwithaB

        Okay, I laughed.
        Thank you.

      • ROBwithaB

        Unfortunately, it actually happened.
        One of my earliest memories. It has inspired me, ever since, to try to help people whenever I see “an accident waiting to happen”.
        Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
        And sometimes I’m probably just over-cautious.

  • ROBwithaB

    I’m pleased we’re finally talking about the elephant in the room.
    On the Tesla forums, it is perfectly clear that people who should have received their cars about a month ago still haven’t gotten them.

    I wonder how many people would be happy to get an X with “normal” doors, at the same price, if they could jump ahead six months on the waiting list.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Finally?

      Finally?

      There’s been an ongoing chorus of Monday morning quarterbacks griping about the falcon wing doors.

      • ROBwithaB

        We, Bob.
        You and me and everyone else on here. Including some of the writers for the site. Actually talking. Having a rational conversation. Whereby those who are skeptical of the doors express their skepticism and those in favour of them actually refrain from taking a giant dump on the opinions of the skeptics. Maybe even, finally, acknowledging that there might be a problem, and talking about what actually went wrong, and how to fix it.
        Finally talking about the DOORS, from an engineering and economic perspective. Rather than people expressing their perceptions of my (lack of) intelligence and experience, or my hidden agendas. Just the doors. Just talking, in a factual, analytical kind of way, where different opinions are acknowledged and respected.

        I have been, for a long time, one of those people you accuse of being a “Monday morning quaterback”. I’m not that familiar with the expression (we do rugby here, without all the padding and helmets) but I don’t think it’s normally meant as a compliment. Presumably implying a lack of first hand experience and a propensity to be a “retrospective expert”.

        It might actually be more accurate then to call me a “Friday afternoon quarterback”. Because I (and a lot of other people) have been asking questions about those doors since they were first announced, long before “game day”. Many people could foresee real problems in getting the doors into production, and had concerns about the business case for doing so.
        These skeptics were routinely insulted in the Tesla forums and on here, sometimes by supposedly impartial moderators. “You obviously can’t afford the car and it’s just sour grapes” was a pretty standard line of “argument”.
        Or: “How dare you have an opinion, if you haven’t launched a rocket or a billion dollar internet start-up.”
        Or variations of: “You’re an idiot. You know nothing about building a car or running a business.”
        Or even (and I’m sorry to remind you of this) “It’s just a couple of hinges. Enough with the griping already.”

        There is a disturbing undercurrent of quasi-religious fervour to some of these Teslarific comments. It’s almost turning into a personality cult,whereby suggesting that “the chosen one” might be human and fallible will get you banished forever.

        People have questioned my motives and my morality, for daring to question one business decision of the popular CEO, suggesting that I must be either a “short” or an oil-company shill.

        For the record, I am neither. In fact, I have an uncomfortably large proportion of my liquid capital in Tesla stock. (There’s a “motive” right there, BTW, for wanting them to NOT go bankrupt as a result of one stupid decision.)
        Rest assured I am not a person who takes any pleasure in saying “I told you so”. I would much rather try to prevent bad things happening in the first place.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Rob, can you not find a way to express yourself in fewer words?

          Will the falcon wing doors turn out to be a good or bad decision?
          – We simply don’t know.

          Did they slow up production?
          – Yes. And the Roadster production was slowed by a supply house not delivering. Stuff happens.

          Will people like them?
          – We don’t know and won’t know until there are a few hundred ModXs delivered and driven for a while.

          Will they provide a huge amount of free advertising?
          – I suspect so.

          Should Tesla have followed your advice?
          – I suspect not.

          • ROBwithaB

            I can try.
            I type fast, especially if am urgently trying to make a point that I believe to be important.
            You asked some questions, and answered them (simplistically) as if the “answers” were obvious and your opinions were unquestionably right. I might answer them differently:

            “Will the falcon wing doors turn out to be a good or bad decision?”
            Although we don;t know for sure, we can certainly predict a likelihood, based on a balance of probabilities, and some first principles of business, engineering, and basic physics. It is not so much about “will they fail?” but about the “Probability of failure” and the risks associated with such probability. Some of this stuff can be guessed with a reasonable degree of accuracy, even without access to the specific details.

            “Will people like them?”
            Actually, we can already guess that some people will almost certainly like them, because they’ve openly expressed their appreciation. And some people will not, for the same reason. Not a particularly interesting question, IMHO. And doesn’t address the question of:
            “Why not simply OPTION the doors?”

            “Will they provide a huge amount of free advertising?”
            Absolutely, they will get an enormous amount of attention. They already have. Brilliant talking points. But is this advertising “free”? Or is it actually quite expensive?

            Reducing the debate to a couple of reductio ad absurdum talking points or strawmen does not make the problem go away.
            It’s a serious problem, one that has the potential to kill the company, thereby destroying all the gains of the past decade.
            And I don’t see it being addressed by the leadership of the company in any way that gives me confidence.

            Instead, could think of a few other, more probing questions, that might throw a bit more light onto the problem….

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Rob, can you not find a way to express yourself in fewer words?

            lol.

          • ROBwithaB

            I can think of a few more questions to ask, perhaps more pointed and more relevant. I’m often more interested in questions that require a quantifiable answer.
            But instead of asking them here, where people can’t be expected to know the answers, I’ve asked them of Tesla directly, via the investor relations department.

            I’ve reposted the questions here, in case anyone is interested. You don’t have to read them, nor respond.

            But they are certainly very relevant to the article, I believe…

  • Simon Moss

    “their own rite” – just because it passes the spell checker doesn’t mean it’s the “rite” word.

    • onesecond

      As a non native speaker I was whondering about that.

    • Pobrecito hablador

      RIGHT

  • Bubba Nicholson

    This is what happens when you make something unnecessarily complex. Tucker did exactly the same thing with stuff that didn’t work/broke down. Litigation here is a waste of time and money. This sort of thing happens on the cutting edge. It’s a cost of doing business. Move on.
    This lawsuit is surprising given Musk’s dislike of intellectual property. I would have thought he would just take every supplier error in stride as we do not live in a perfect world.
    Musk just liked the idea of Falcon Wing doors and refused to listen to me. I told him that regular doors would be fine and the extra clap trap would be pointless. Nice, but pointless. Now, if Tesla were producing an ICE car, then the Falcon doors could be a marketing advantage. But, of course, Tesla does not know how to market it’s cars. If it did, it would be profitable.

    • Joe Viocoe

      Profit margin on each car is over 20%. And the lawsuit is regarding contracts, and nothing to do with IP.

    • ROBwithaB

      It wasn’t just you telling him, Bubba…
      There’s been an entire choir in the wings, singing the same chorus. I’m sure that there were even people within Tesla. including some in the core management team, who must have expressed misgivings.

      The fact that the normally smart, perceptive,inclusive and practical CEO stuck to his guns in such a stubborn, tone-deaf way is more of a concern to me than the doors themselves.
      Sometimes, you need a strong ego to see a company through tough times.
      But sometimes, that same ego just gets in the way of doing the right thing.

      Don’t kill the doors (or the windscreen or the air filter). Just option them. Everybody saves face. No promises are broken. The long-suffering customers simply have more choices, and a way to get into an X much sooner.
      It would still be a completely awesome car, fully deserving of the $80,000 price tag.

      Even WITHOUT all the complicated stuff, The Tesla Model X would still be THE BEST SUV EVER MADE. By a wide margin. It would also be:
      Much easier and quicker to mass produce.
      and, thus
      Much cheaper to make.
      and
      Much easier to sell to “conservative” folk already taking a big leap by going electric.

      In other words: You make more. You sell more. It costs less to make each one, while the selling price remains the same.
      This leads to something called PROFIT, which helps in the larger goal (which seems to have been obscured behind those fancy doors) which is to get a lot of people into affordable electric cars.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        It could be Musk is using the door and seat to give him time to get around other issues.

        And it could be that Captain Ahab wasn’t obsessed with white whales but had some alternative reason to be out at sea…

        • Yes. As one example, there have been strong arguments made that the Model S had so much demand (as much as had been projected for the S & X years ago) that Tesla had no need or purpose in rolling out the X earlier. As overall production capacity and battery supply eventually got up to ?50,000/yr and Model S demand wasn’t backed up by many months, it made sense for Tesla to finally get the X to production.

          That is just one argument, but it has been strongly made by some long-time followers of the company.

          Edit: Of course, it’s not the kind of thing someone who put down a $40,000 reservation for the car years ago would be pleased to hear. So…

          • Ivor O’Connor

            lol, yep.

            To me it is plain micro economics 101. And it is the reality of why we will not be seeing Model 3s on the street anytime soon.

  • Otis11

    Oh snap…

  • Steve_R

    So where is the Model X now? Only 208 were delivered by the end of 2015. Does anyone have any information on how the ramp up is going in 2016? Have all the problems mentioned in the article been overcome, or are they still impacting production?

    • Kyle Field

      I haven’t heard anything about 2016 deliveries. Folks on the TMC forums are being allowed to build theirs but I haven’t seen much on deliveries.

    • Shiggity

      From what I understand, their parts suppliers are so small, even a tiny blip in *one* of their shops will cause massive delays.

      I’m glad they did the Model X before the Model 3. They learned everything not to do in terms of parts suppliers.

      This shouldn’t really be surprising. The Model X has some pretty crazy stuff on it, stuff that’s never been in a production SUV before.

      • Joe Viocoe

        And the Model 3 is more about cost reduction, than showing off the coolest features…. so it really should not have the same problems.

    • Kraylin

      I am anxiously awaiting a January update early February for all EV sales but I am particularly interested in Volt and Model X sales and how they both ramp up during the year.

    • People with fairly high Vin #s have reported getting their cars or having delivery scheduled or nearly scheduled. Though, Vin #s aren’t completely sequential, and it is hard to read much into that.

      We’ll basically have to wait for Tesla’s official numbers.

      That said, I just talked to someone this week who has received his Model X (maybe even two of them… not clear). Story coming soon… 😀

  • markogts

    Were those falcon wing doors really necessary? French (Citröen) style complications, imho…

    • Kyle Field

      Totally not necessary…but nice now that they’re here 🙂 I’m a bit surprised that Elon wants to put them on either the Model 3 or the Model Y…seems unnecessary for a more affordable car.

      • Dragon

        Why do you think they want them on Model 3/Y? I know he tweeted that they could be model 3 options (not mandatory) and then deleted that tweet which seems like he’s removing that as a promise. Did he say something else later?

        Now that they’ve done all the work to get them working it may make financial sense to include them as an option in other cars since they are a selling point to some people.

        • Kyle Field

          Ah…I didn’t realize that he had deleted the tweet. Somebody must not have told Elon about the whole ‘no takebacks’ thing…bummer. It would be nice…and it will be interesting to see how these next two go…

          • He does that quite often, surprisingly. Would think he’d learn the first time. Anyhow, yeah, he probably didn’t want to fully commit to it or just didn’t want focus on it.

      • John Moore

        I’m trying hard to picture a scenario where the sedan version of the III could have falcon wing doors. I can’t. Perhaps if there is a $60,000 version of the car, or something. I feel like even talking about it is a distraction. It is going to already be enough of a challenge to get a car, on time, on budget, that can be produced in high numbers. It just seems like an unnecessary distraction.

        • Kyle Field

          As much as I would like affordable falcon wing doors, I have to agree. Depends on how much of the work they can reapply straight from the X though considering how much extra work Tesla did for the X even though it was “just built on top of the S platform”…I would rather they just went with normal doors and moved the schedule ahead 3 months.

          • QKodiak

            They ended up changing so much of it. Very little is shared between the Model S and the Model X. The Model X is nicer with a more luxurious interior where all 6 or 7 seats are ventilated and heated, an industry first. Also an industry first is the center seat of the second row being identical to the flanking pair, instead of the usual padded hump with little legroom due to the transmission tunnel. The dashboard and drivetrain are nearly identical with some changes since the X can tow up to 5,000 lbs, also a first for an EV. Everything else has been changed in some way and made better.

            The Tesla Model III will undoubtedly be offered with larger battery packs, tech options like Autopilot, AWD, and a performance model. It will also be available as a sedan and as a crossover. I doubt that falcon wing doors will be available on the Model III. They are not a siple retrofit, but require significant redesign.

          • Kyle Field

            That’s the bummer about the perfectionists that comprise Tesla. Too many nice to haves that were built into the X. I’m hopeful that the 3 and Y are more similar…at least for the chassis.

      • joshua

        I think it will be on the model Y, which will be aimed at the minivan buying crowd. People don’t want their kids slamming car doors into other vehicles in parking lots.

        I think they wanted them on the model X since that is their “rich people minivan”, and didn’t want the lower end car to have cooler features. (though I assume model Y will have things the current X doesn’t).

      • tigertoo

        What if falcon doors were the standard? They may just become so. regular doors are not without their problems. I had a 5 year old ford focus with saggy doors. I don’t see falcon doors as really much more complex than a tail gate which lifts.

        • ROBwithaB

          On a five year old Ford Focus, everything gets a bit saggy…

          • VFanRJ

            Model X owners will find that their options of underground parking cut in half when they visit SLC if they are carrying passengers in the back.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The ceilings are a lot less than seven feet high?

          • VFanRJ

            Falcon wing doors require 90 inches when open, and no not every underground lot has that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Perhaps for a full opening, but the doors have sensors so that they don’t hit something overhead.

            I believe building codes generally require a seven foot (84″) minimum for parking garages. That means that the doors would stop a bit before fully open and tall people might have to duck a bit if they were walking straight out of the car. Or they could walk a step or two forwards or to the rear to get past the door

            http://img-3.gizmag.com/tesla-model-x-launch-12.jpg?auto=format&ch=Width%2CDPR&fit=max&h=700&q=60&w=700&s=8a5f27623c0ca3bffba8e08cf617f0d4

          • VFanRJ

            Didn’t know that the doors would stop before hitting objects. Will be interesting to see how well they work.

          • ROBwithaB

            The multi-story long-term parking lot at the local airport has a roof height barely sufficient for a VW minibus. All sorts of stuff hanging from it it too, like sprinkler systems, illuminated signage etc.
            I wonder how it would work with an assymetrical door layout. Falcon on one side, regular the other?

          • VFanRJ

            Interesting question. The parking lots in SLC have all sorts of pipes and low beams as well. Will be interesting to see how well the sensors that Bob refers to work.

        • Kyle Field

          That is a future I wouldn’t mind living in 🙂

    • Dragon

      I don’t think they would have done the doors if they’d realized how much delay they would cause, but delays are impossible to predict ahead of time and it sounds like if not for Hoerbiger they wouldn’t have caused as much of a delay. I suspect the reason they wanted those doors is that the type of person who is willing to spend $80-$120k on a luxury car is also the type of person who wants unique and eye-catching features on that car to make it stand out.

      Obviously, not every customer feels that way and so the doors have become somewhat controversial: they’re seen as a significant reason the car was delayed, as a potential failure point, and as a problem to open if the top of the car is covered in snow. I could also see more blowing snow getting in the car due to the extra large opening the doors create. Of course the very fact the doors inspire people to talk about them as a good or bad feature helps with advertising and selling X to those who appreciate the doors. I wouldn’t be surprised if standard doors become an option in the next year or so to make everyone else happy.

      • ROBwithaB

        Exactly. Such an easy problem to solve.
        Just OPTION the doors.

        Make it something that people have to pay to get. Priced right, maybe about 10% of people would actually choose the doors, and the rest would prefer to use the money on other upgrades instead.

        The company still gets all the advantages, in terms of press coverage, water cooler chatter, etc, the “halo” effect, without having to go through all the complications of actually making tens of thousands of the things (and sit with the potential for future recall issues and accelerated depreciation).

        Get more cars out the door, at a higher profit margin, with fewer long-term maintenance issues.
        It’s a no-brainer.

        • joshua

          The major downside is that you then have to build two very different vehicles. The falcon doors are so integral to the car, that you can’t swap in normal doors without major changes. The argument against this is to instead design a single body that can accommodate both, but that would mean even bigger trade-offs and difficulty.

          • ROBwithaB

            I’m not so sure, actually. If you take a look at the current door openings (on the sides of the vehicles, ignoring the roof cutouts) it’s pretty easy to imagine a normal door, hinged at the front, swinging open and shut to close off that space.
            And it shouldn’t bee to difficult to make the windscreen a lot smaller, and simply replace that section with sheet metal, because the windscreen isn’t really a structural component.
            Seats can probably be acquired off-the shelf or with only minor modifications from any one of a number of third party suppliers already manufacturing millions every year.

            The entire point of the “skateboard” configuration is that it allows for a whole range of different “top boxes” to be dropped onto a standard drive train. Much of the structural rigidity is provided by the “chassis” of the skateboard. So everything at the bottom stays exactly the same, and changes at the top don’t require any radical re-design. Even changing the doors, the main vertical structural members can remain unchanged. (The two big vertical ones on either side of the current falcon door, and the curved roof pillars holding the front and rear glass.) It’s a pretty sold cage, and unless there’s something deeply mysterious I don’t understand, there’s no reason to change it.
            But once one goes up onto the top, things get a bit more tricky. That big H-frame thing they put in to hold the falcon doors has no place in a vehicle with normal doors, IMHO. And the doors themselves might no longer fit the modified opening, requiring modifications at the level of stamped metal.

            So yeah, there would probably need to be some serious re-design of the roof structure (which would actually be an improvement, giving more head roon and/or reduced frontal area) and one may even need to change the shape of the top flange of the doors (the bottom section of hinged “wing”).

            But stamping metal is one of the easier steps in making a car, from what I understand. And once the dies are made, you can use them many many times.
            The robots can be re-programmed pretty easily to make the required changes for different welds etc.
            It is MUCH easier to store stamped parts than it is to store half
            assembled cars. (Or fully assembled cars that are waiting for a few
            missing pieces. Which is what;s happening now, I suspect…)

            There would probably also be some changes required to the trim on the ceiling, and probably the door trim too. Those outside door handles might need to change as well, assuming a front hinged door.
            All in all, what do you imagine is the total number of individual parts that would need to be changed? Maybe 30 or 40 (allowing for both left and right mirror versions)? What proportion would that be of the total car? Maybe 5%?

            I don’t claim to know the exact answers to these questions. I last poked my head around in a car plant decades ago. But there’s a lot of video footage available online of what a modern car assembly line looks like in operation. Anyone with a reasonable understanding of engineering can work out the basic steps involved.
            Unlike Elon’s other project, it is not rocket science 🙂

            I’m not suggesting it would be easy. But it’s obviously nowhere near as difficult as designing a whole new car from the ground up. It might well take a few months to sort out all the kinks and get the new, simpler version through crash testing and homologation.

            Which means that they’d better get started, ASAP….

          • joshua

            “requiring modifications at the level of stamped metal.” exactly. There is a reason “The die is cast” is such a famous phrase; they are very expensive. Stamping the metal is the easy part, requiring different die for different trim levels of the car is something that no auto manufacturer would ever be willing to do (or able to do and make money).

            Tesla obviously worked out the doors with another supplier, and even if supply is currently slow, suppliers are ramping up production as fast as they can to meet Tesla’s demand.

            Given that the car is so well known by its doors, and they are currently making deliveries, it wouldn’t make any sense for them to do any kind of redesign now. If anything, I see this as a reason for the Model Y (if it has the falcon doors), to have the exact same doors, rather than a slight modification that would require engineering them all over again, and perhaps require different specialty parts.

          • ROBwithaB

            I suspect you may not have fully investigated the implications of your statement that: “requiring different die for different trim levels of the car is
            something that no auto manufacturer would ever be willing to do (or able
            to do and make money)”

            In reality, manufacturers routinely offer an entire “line-up” of vehicles, based on a single platform and sharing sheet metal in bonnets (hoods), sills, pillars, quarter panels, cross members, cowlings, spring housings, fenders etc, etc. Some minor “cosmetic” alterations, requiring a few different panels, change the entire shape and character of the vehicle, from a four-door hatchback to a sedan to a coupe to a cabriolet to a station wagon. This sort of thing has been going on for decades. It is actually one of the major ways that auto companies SAVE themselves a lot of money, and is a trend that is becoming even more entrenched in the industry.

            It’s a fixed cost vs marginal cost analysis. Yes, each die is very expensive. But you amortise that cost over as many widgets as you can. The more you make, the cheaper the unit cost.

            All the more reason to make as many as possible. A FEW parts are indeed more expensive due to lower volumes. But MOST of the (shared) stamped parts end up being much cheaper, due to higher volumes.
            And everything should be optimised to assemble as easily as possible. If the demand is there, you want to pump them out of the factory as fast as people will buy them. (Whilst maintaining an illusion of scarcity. It helps with the pricing.)
            No secret to any of this. All easy to find out online, or by talking to people who make (or fix) cars.

            The current incarnation of the Model X is difficult and time-consuming to make. It is subject to a complicated supply chain of brand new, bespoke components. Many, many things can go wrong, and some of them almost certainly will. As we have seen, a single problem with a single component can delay the entire production sequence
            And as long as the S and X are sharing certain parts of the assembly line, any delay in X production could also hamper production of the (“cash cow”) Model S.

            Not good for the company. Not good for my stake in it. And not good for the planet we all share.

          • joshua

            The difference is that you have just explained how a company can reuse the same die across many cars, whereas I argue that a single car should not need multiple dies for different versions of the same car.

            GM wants to have x number of cars in their lineup, but couldn’t be profitable if each was entirely engineered and produced in a vacuum. Instead they make different versions of the same car, and sell them as different cars.

            Tesla is not in the same boat. They do not want a range of vehicles slotting in around the Model X. If this were the case, it would certainly make sense to have two different cars with different doors. But they don’t, they just want to sell the X, therefore it doesn’t make sense to require multiple sets of die for different options on a single vehicle.

            They already sell as many as they can make, and therefore don’t need to have a vehicle that slots into every possible niche as Toyota or GM might.

            Besides, the X already uses the same underpinnings as the S, so that fills your example of multiple cars in the same lineup sharing some manufacturing, no reason to splinter things further.

          • Brooks Bridges

            “It” is always easy to do – if someone else is doing it.

            I think you should apply to Tesla for a job – they need your expertise.

          • ROBwithaB

            Do I detect a hint of sarcasm? 🙂

            In all seriousness, I believe that Tesla are at the stage that they could do with some critical, sounding-board type people, rational analysts (without veto power or anything) to provide “wise counsel” to a visonary CEO. Remind him of the original corporate mission, and try to balance out some of the wilder imaginative flourishes.

            But I shan’t be submitting my CV. Already have more than enough on my plate. And I’ve never worked for a proper boss.
            (I don’t consider myself “proper”.)

    • VFanRJ

      Wouldn’t surprise me at all that if Musk have the option to do it again the first version of the Model X would have used traditional doors and then have a falcon door option later. It simply caused too many delays.

  • kvleeuwen

    All engineering is making tradeoffs 🙂
    By the way, I think the Model 3 is anticipated and hyped even more…

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