On the Tesla quarterly conference call today, one questioner couldn’t help asking about Tesla Model Y production. It’s the model millions of people really, really, really want — and since we know so little about it, we are thirsting for information.
The questioner referenced a Reuters report that Model Y production was more or less scheduled to begin at the end of 2019. As we learned from automotive experts after publishing about that news here on CleanTechnica, the underlying details of that article’s sources and scoop actually made it clear that: 1) you couldn’t really make any conclusions based on the vague, super-early-stage supplier information Reuters reportedly obtained, 2) but if you were to make a conclusion based on the core information Reuters gathered, it would be that Model Y production couldn’t start that soon.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed as much on the Tesla conference call. “The Reuters report is based on nothing,” he laughed. He added that Model Y production is “closer to 24 months away right now,” but also seemed to say he hadn’t thought about it too much since the company focus has been Model 3.
“The production location for Model Y has not been decided,” Elon added, before squashing the hopes of anyone who thought it might fit into one of Tesla’s existing facilities — the two largest production facilities on the planet, Elon was keen to note.
Elon once hypothesized that there was a chance Fremont could have a production capacity of 1 million — in theory, at least. He did note at the time that it would likely never reach a production rate of 1 million cars a year, but that it should be able to produce far more than 500,000 a year. That 2016 comment about a hypothetical max capacity of 1 million, however, seemed to slam into reality at some point as Tesla discovered how much space it would need as Model 3 production actually ramped up. Tesla is “jammed to the gills” in Fremont, Elon emphasized, “crazy packed” there.
Elon highlighted that all future gigafactories would include battery production and car production. He also noted that a Chinese Gigafactory should be announced soon (I read that as “in the coming few months”), but it was for some reason not clear whether that factory would produce the Model Y. Does Elon expect to fill it up with Model 3, Model S, and Model X production? We’ll see. Either way, Elon expects to pick a location for Model Y production by the end of 2018. Whether Tesla announces the location once it makes the decision is another matter, but hey, if you ask the question right, it seems Elon will answer.
In any case, Elon said Model Y production would be a “revolution,” that it would be incredible from a manufacturing standpoint.
“There’s no question we could have made the Model 3 easier to produce than it is,” Elon said. That is a bit of a contrast to the “designed for manufacturing” story Tesla was highlighting a couple of years ago, but the two points actually don’t have to be exclusive — even if the car was designed for mass manufacturing, that doesn’t mean it was designed perfectly for efficient and easy manufacturing and it doesn’t mean the manufacturing prep was ideal.
“I think Model Y will be a manufacturing revolution. Because, we do not want to go through this pain again,” Elon added, which does sound a lot like talk of Model 3 design and production plans after Model X headaches, but it would be a surprise if Tesla didn’t discover many things it could do better with Model Y on the way to producing 10,000 Model 3’s a month. That’s a topic for another piece, though.
For now, if you’re considering holding out for a Model Y, maybe reconsider. If production is maybe 24 months out in Elon time, me thinks you’re going to need another car before the Model Y is ready — and there are too many great electric choices on the market to hold off on clean, smooth, quiet, powerful, fun, and convenient zero-emissions transport.
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