As we recently reported, Bloomberg has a new Tesla Model 3 production tracking and estimation tool. Last week, it projected Tesla was building 810 Model 3 sedans a week. In the broader electric car world, 810 cars a week isn’t bad, but it’s a long way from the 2,500 Elon expected by the end of the first quarter of 2018. Essentially right after our coverage of the tool, the Bloomberg tool started showing a significant uptick in production — heading into the last week of the quarter.
One component of the tracker is VIN number registration batches, which Tesla reports to the federal government. All manufacturers report upcoming VIN numbers. It’s how those cars get into the system so that when you go to the registry of motor vehicles to register your shiny new Belchfire 5000, the DMV computer knows your car is real. The VIN numbers also help federal officials keep track of the millions of cars manufactured each year for purposes of managing safety recalls and such.
Bloomberg admits the VIN tracker is not very responsive to the most recent input — it is a rolling average. Therefore, the shutdown of the Model 3 production facilities both in Fremont and in Nevada in February still weigh on the results. Here is the team’s latest thinking on the matter:
“Our model is, by design, slow to respond to such changes in the data. In order to avoid over-reacting to unusual batches, we’ve averaged our production rates over time. That means our model’s current estimated production rate is still being held back by February’s temporary manufacturing pause. We expect the improving trend will continue next week, based on the data we’ve already received.”
And here’s the payoff from all that number crunching: “The trajectory of the reported VINs is steeper and more consistent than we’ve seen before, and our model’s estimates are just beginning to reflect that. Based on some of the numbers we’re seeing, we think it’s possible that Tesla could already be producing well over 1,000 a week and climbing.”
There’s a notable difference between 810 cars a week and 1,500 or so cars a week, but even the latter is still far below Elon’s most recent predictions. But it’s the upward trend that is important. If the trend were flat or on a downward trajectory, that would be cause for serious concern. Even though missing yet another self-imposed target only solidifies Musk’s reputation for being super optimistic at all times about timelines, Tesla is on the way to being the dominant manufacturer of battery electric vehicles outside of China and far ahead of all legacy automakers.
The German car companies are rushing to catch up, but by the time they do, Tesla will have accelerated into the passing lane and be moving ahead fast. The question then will become whether anyone can catch them.
Editor’s note: Some might be inclined to bash Elon Musk and Tesla for still being late with their production targets, but as Elon tweeted last year, if he wasn’t inherently optimistic, Tesla likely wouldn’t be here today and no one could even complain that Model 3 production wasn’t ramping up to 500,000 cars a year fast enough. There would be no Model 3. And, by the way, what would that mean for the electric vehicle plans of major automakers? (Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.)
I'm doing my best to recalibrate, but that is a fair criticism. However, if I wasn't inherently optimistic, I wouldn't be doing electric cars and rockets in the first place!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 6, 2017