Published on May 4th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


Tesla Model 3 Drivetrain At March 31 Launch Was Production Drivetrain, Design Close To Finished

May 4th, 2016 by  

After questioning about ramping up production of the Tesla Model 3, Elon (seconds ago, as I type) said that the drivetrain of the Tesla Model 3 at the March 31 launch was the production drivetrain for the world-changing Model 3.

Overall, the design of the Model 3 is almost complete. This should give a lot of EV/Tesla/Model 3 fans and climate hawks very happy.


Tesla Model 3 @ Unveiling Event | Image Credit: Kyle Field, for CleanTechnica

Tesla CEO Elon Musk let it slip that the production target date for all Model 3 suppliers is July 1, 2017. He made it completely clear that this target date is “impossible,” and explained at length why Tesla has to have such an aggressive and unrealistic date.

As one analogy trying to explain it, he noted that there’s always a required date to turn in a term paper, but you know some will be late. The thing is that, even if one single supplier is late, the car will be late. So, taking into account the near-fact that some suppliers will be late and there could be tooling/ramp problems, Tesla expects to have the Tesla Model 3 in serious production by the end of 2017… but the closer to July 2017, the better.

Also emphasized a few times on the conference call, Elon noted that the Model 3 is being designed in order to be easy to produce. He said that it is “the first car” that Tesla will make that “is designed to be easy to make.”


Tesla Model 3 @ Unveiling Event | Image Credit: Kyle Field, for CleanTechnica


Tesla Model 3 @ Unveiling Event | Image Credit: Kyle Field, for CleanTechnica

To repeat: Model 3 design is close to done, and the drivetrain in the car on March 31 was the production drivetrain. Between now and end of 2017, Tesla is getting all of the suppliers on board and very closely watching their ability to ramp, as well as tooling up its own manufacturing facilities. Specifically asked about the need for new tools for the Model 3 production, Elon said, “if you can make a human baby in 9 months, you can make a tool in 9 months, so that’s our expectation.” (Thanks to “FANGO” for jotting this line down, as I was too busy typing other things to do so.)

Also see:

7 More “Tidbits” (aka Bombshells) From Tesla’s Financials Call

Holy Cow, Tesla Has Moved Its 500,000 Cars-A-Year Aim To 2018 (From 2020)

Despite Model X Delays, Tesla Maintains 2016 Production Target (80,000–90,000)

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • stuart21

    Why would they not want the absolutely simplest drive train?

  • JeremyK

    Curious to know people’s reaction to Elon’s announcement that Tesla will make 100,000+ M3s by the end of 2017, even though Musk stated that the July date was “impossible”.

    Even if Tesla started making cars in January of 2017, 100,000 M3s (in addition to Ss and Xs) would be unprecedented for the company. To think they’ll knock out 100,000 – 200,000 cars between Aug-December is hilarious and not physically possible in any logistical reality….even with infinite money and other resources. NOT POSSIBLE! Does anybody believe this? If so, how?

    • onesecond

      Look at the comments from neroden in the comment sections of the other Tesla articles from today about mass manufacturing of cars. Then it actually makes sense.

    • Bob_Wallace

      If Tesla intends to produce 500,000 EVs in 2018 then they need to set up enough assembly lines and arrange for the parts to stream in. Assuming 50,000 cars per line (running three shifts) that would mean ten lines. They now have three (IIRC). Set up seven more lines at the same time, it’s just a matter of ordering seven of everything. The factory space has been built.

      The Gigafactory is designed for 500k battery packs a year, plus Panasonic has been furnishing enough cells for another 80,000 or so cars per year.

      500,000 / 12 = 41,667 cars per month.

      41,667 x 5 (Aug – Dec) = ~208,300 cars.

      I suspect Tesla has worked out the details of their plan. Suppliers have been consulted and likely contracted. If suppliers have to scale up then they are likely already doing so and have been doing so for a while.

      Take the glass roof. Tesla would have worked with the supplier, possibly multiple suppliers, and determined that they are capable of producing in the quantities needed. Tesla wouldn’t have announced a large number like they have and then called up their suppliers and said “Hey guys, we just announced 500,000 a year starting in 2018. Any chance you can supply us 500,000 whatevers a year by then?”.

      • JeremyK

        I’ve got no problem with the numbers you’ve shown and the supplier strategy. Now that Tesla is talking about volumes of 100,000+, I’m sure suppliers will take them much more seriously and be very interested in gaining Tesla as a client.

        My biggest concern would be the manufacturing lines that will be needed. My work is indirectly associated with manufacturing, and from what I’ve seen, even a relatively “simple” manufacturing line (at the component level) takes about a year of lead time to build and deliver to the customer (Tesla’s supplier in this case). I would wager that a full-fledged vehicle manufacturing line would require an even longer lead time than that, plus time to install/debug at the manufacturing location. I’m not implying that 10 lines will take 10 years, but I also doubt they can build 10 lines in parallel within one year.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Tesla didn’t start working on plant expansion when they started taking reservations for the Mod 3. This was something that had been ongoing for some time. You’d need to look back to the first mentions of 500k per year and figure Tesla had done the pencil work before starting to talk about those sorts of numbers.

          • JeremyK

            But what about the Gigafactory? How many cells/packs can they produce when it’s only 1/5 complete? The original size of the GF was sized to support what volume of vehicle production?

          • Bob_Wallace

            My guess would be 1/5th = 1/5th.

            Soon the Gigafactory will be producing 1. About the time Tesla is producing 500,000 EVs a year. (Panasonic could probably provide enough cells for another 100,000 EVs a year based on what they are providing now.)
            Gigafactory 1 was designed for 500k battery packs per year. Recently (IIRC) Tesla has talked about increasing the factory size.

            I expect to hear about the start of GF II within the next 12 months. Tesla will need to almost double output to reach “almost a million” per year by 2020.

  • super390

    It makes sense that they would want to gauge public reaction to the visible parts of the car, the interior and styling, before locking those down. They may also still be fighting to get the drag coefficient down. They never said the prototype had reached 0.21 cD, just that this was the target.

  • Leeper

    I’m hopeful that they will succeed, but I’m reminded of an old saying, 9 women can’t have a baby in 1 month. I’m still betting on them!

  • neroden

    I think I guessed the status of Model 3 almost exactly: drivetrain, frame, body, mechanicals and electricals are all done (awaiting a final decision on door handles) — interior is not done (though I suspect seats are done). It seems that it doesn’t take long to finalize interiors, so it’s always done late…

    • Carl Raymond S

      Elon tweeted something about enlarging the boot opening. Perhaps high at the time (on Model 3 orders).

      • neroden

        Yeah, that could be done without changing the exterior profile. Minor tweaks to the metal section between where the window ends and where the opening starts

        • AaronD12

          I still hope a Model 3 hatchback variant is in the cards.

          • eveee

            Model Y? Its clear that the 3 launch vehicle was designed to be a sedan.

  • Adventeur

    Thank you for this article Zachary, I can feel the excitement!

  • Dragon

    Maybe someday Tesla will grow their tools just like babies! Or maybe they’ll grow their batteries…

    Will be so cool once Model 3 starts rolling out.

    • neroden

      Remember, Tesla owns their own tool and die company. This is an advantage when it comes to making new tools.

      • AaronD12

        In the same state (Michigan) that won’t allow them to sell/service their cars in-state.

        • SaturnV

          The land of the Free….

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