If A Model 3 Was Produced In The Forest, Would Anyone Know?

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Of course. Everyone would know.

A drone would surely record its birth. The VIN would be known in a mere seconds. Local gnomes would carefully examine the fit & finish and measure any panel gaps.

Now, what if a VW e-Golf was produced in the forest? Well, in that case, there’s a good chance no one would find out. (If the car was discovered, though, it would almost certainly be shipped to Norway.)

To be clear, I think the e-Golf is a great car. It’s a solid buy. But it’s noteworthy that Bloomberg didn’t set up a production estimation tool for the e-Golf, Chevy Bolt, or Fiat 500e. It did for the Tesla Model 3.

The funny thing is, there seems to be wide variation in who is obsessively following Tesla Model 3 production. Tesla fans, broad EV fans, Tesla and EV haters, TSLA shorts, TSLA longs, etc. — there are many parties obsessively following Model 3 production news and possibilities. The production ramp is a big deal because the eventual target isn’t 30,000 or even 50,000 cars a year — it’s 500,000 or so cars a year.

As a standalone product, it’s a big deal — the opening weekend reservations were by certain metrics a record for any consumer product in history. But the bigger deal is that this car alone (looking backward as well as forward) could shift the EV revolution’s timeline by a decade or so. Tesla’s progress implementing an impressive prelude with the Roadster, Model S, and Model X; raising consumer interest in the car before launch; unveiling an impressive product on March 31, 2016; getting the Model 3 to production launch rather quickly; and slowly ramping up production as raving reviews come in have all been enough to generate countless boardroom and executive discussions in the auto manufacturing world. Not only discussions — all of that has surely been part of the impetus for these automakers’ hastened electrification timelines. Big electrification announcements seem to have come an average of once a month since the middle of last year. Ford, GM, Daimler, Volkswagen, etc. — the timelines have repeatedly moved forward. Granted, there are multiple factors at play (China, anyone?), but you’d have to be in serious denial to not accept that the Tesla Model 3 has pushed automakers into the EV revolution more quickly than these automakers previously planned.

But that brings us back to Model 3 production progress and the hawkeye attention on this. Clearly, getting the Model 3 to a high level of mass production is critical for its future. Tesla’s fate looks more positive and more secure than anytime in history, but a lot of stumbles for the Model 3 could still result in a nasty fiery crash. More broadly, if production ramps up quickly, that puts all the more pressure on other automakers. Whereas, if Tesla hits a brick wall, all of those hastened electrification timelines can be pulled back and slowed down again. After all, automakers don’t want a quick transition. They are being forced into a quick transition that eats up the cash in their bank accounts and shuts down machines and factories they counted as massive investments just a few years ago.

Looking at weekly or daily details around Model 3 production may seem crazy, but when so much of such a giant industry rests on its success or failure, it makes a bit more sense.

And remember, progress with the Model 3 rollout also has implications for the Tesla Model Y, Tesla Semi, Tesla Pickup, etc.

So, how many Model 3s have been produced in the first quarter of 2018? That’s the billion-dollar question. What’s your guess?

Tesla Model 3 photo via Kyle Field — car not actually born in the forest.


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Zachary Shahan has 7361 posts and counting. See all posts by Zachary Shahan