According to documents released by the local ecology and environment authority, Tesla Gigafactory Shanghai is targeting completion of stamping, bodywork, painting, and assembly workshops by September 2019, making it ready to produce much of the Tesla Model 3 onsite by sometime in Q4. Motor and powertrain workshops, and seat production, are targeted for completion by March 2020, increasing further the degree of localization.
We recently heard that the initial phase of structural work in Shanghai is planned to be completed in the “summer” of this year. Now we have news of the ambitious schedule for completion of actual workshops within the factory. According to an article published on Tuesday in Global Times, (and a later gasgoo article) the new details are based on Tesla’s internal plans, as registered with the local authority for regulatory approval and rubber stamping. These appear to be in line with the announced aim for the Shanghai facility to be up and running, producing up to 3,000 Model 3s per week by the end of the 2019. Worth noting is that Tesla has publicly allowed itself some scope for unforeseen delays, only officially saying, in the recent 2018 Q4 update letter, “Barring unexpected challenges with Gigafactory Shanghai, we are targeting annualized Model 3 output in excess of 500,000 units sometime between Q4 of 2019 and Q2 of 2020.”
The ambitious September scheduling of workshop completion reflects instead the company’s own internal targets, and the timeline communicated to local authorities. It appears that Elon Musk is wising up to the advantages of public announcements that underpromise, and potentially overdeliver.
The prioritization of completing stamping, bodywork, paint and assembly workshops suggests that Tesla will initially supply powertrain and other non-body components from offsite, to be matched up with a mostly locally made (and painted) body for final assembly onsite. In the initial 6 month period (Q4 2019 — Q2 2020), the powertrain will almost certainly be coming directly from the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, though many of the remaining vehicle components will likely be shipped in directly from suppliers.
After the additional workshop areas (motor, powertrain, and seat) are completed around March 2020, a high proportion of key components will be produced in situ, further reducing costs and streamlining overall production efficiencies. Tesla is initially aiming to focus on making the more affordable versions of the Model 3 locally in Shanghai, and will still import the Performance, AWD, and perhaps Long Range from the US. Local production will allow even the Model 3 Standard Range to be sold locally in China at a very healthy margin by Q2 or perhaps Q3 2020.
The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range will be tremendously popular in China, having all of Tesla’s industry-leading design and technology characteristics, and a range that is more than sufficient for the duty-cycle of most private vehicles in China. That said, given that the Model 3 is the hottest vehicle in the world right now, there’s still plenty of scope for continued high demand in China for the California-made versions that have just started arriving in the country in the past couple of weeks and offer more performance, tech, and prestige.
What do you think? Will Tesla be able to achieve its ambitious September internal schedule for the stamping, bodywork, painting, and assembly workshops? Please share you thoughts and perspectives in the comments.