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Nothing Unusual About Model 3 Production Pause, Says Tesla

Tesla has paused Model 3 production for 4 to 5 days while it makes adjustments to the production line in Fremont and at the Gigafactory. The company says such things are normal, but others in the industry disagree.

Buzzfeed reported a few days ago that Tesla has shut down production of the Model 3 for a few days. The company says the pause was planned all along. Employees who spoke with Buzzfeed said the shutdown was unexpected. During the 4 to 5 days the line is shut down, workers are expected to use vacation days or stay home on unpaid leave. Some may be offered work elsewhere within the factory. The production hiatus will take place at both the Fremont factory and at the portion of the Gigafactory devoted to making batteries for the Model 3. A Tesla spokesperson tells Buzzfeed the pause is happening in order to “improve automation.”

Tesla Model 3When Tesla stopped Model 3 production in February, it told Bloomberg that such interruptions are “common in production ramps like this.” Recently, it used exactly the same language when responding to Buzzfeed about this most recent stoppage, but others in the industry say it is not normal. “Traditional automakers adjust bottlenecks on the fly during a launch,” Dave Sullivan, an analyst at AutoPacific told the LA Times in an email. “This is totally out of the ordinary. Time is money in automotive manufacturing, and Tesla seems to think they have plenty of both.” Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor, and economics group at the Center for Automotive Research, sent another email to the LA Times saying, “Shutting down for days on end during ramp is far from normal.”

The Teslascenti tend to get their knickers in a knot if anyone dares criticize Elon or Tesla. To make an omelet, you gotta crack a few eggs, they argue. Disrupting industries means ignoring past practice and plunging ahead into the great unknown. Columbus had no proof the world was round, but that didn’t keep him tethered to a pier in Genoa.

Perhaps Elon is right and the world is wrong, but that hasn’t kept Tesla stock from taking a beating this week as the bears gather to carve up the carcass of the company. Goldmans Sachs cut its 12-month price target for Tesla to $195 a share last week. “We believe the sustainable production rate for the second quarter of 2018 is most likely below the 2,000 vehicle mark the company achieved in the final week of the [first] quarter,” analyst David Tamberrino told CNBC. “We see the company likely sustaining Model 3 production around the 1,400 per week mark,” he added.

Some people think anyone who can make rockets fly backwards deserves more credit. “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.

Editor’s note: As Maarten Vinkhuyzen noted recently, the problem with this story is largely in terminology. He adds in the comments below that Tesla is still building an assembly line, not simply ramping up production by increasing speed/work on the assembly line. I think we’ll have another story explaining this before too long.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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