Originally published on Gas2.
Word recently went out that Tesla’s Fremont factory tours were put on hold for a short time. In other words, for some reason, outsiders are not being brought into the Fremont factory for a couple of weeks or so. Hmm, you thinking what I’m thinking?
Following that news, today, I caught rumor that Model X production is starting next week and the factory is currently shut down to prepare for that. The news seems to come from someone who is friends with a Tesla employee.
As exciting as this is, it’s not at all surprising (to me, at least). Tesla CEO & Product Architect Elon Musk stated a couple of weeks ago that the Model X was on schedule. More specifically, he said, “X is on track for first deliveries in two months and Model 3 in just over two years.” That would be ~6–8 weeks now (depending on how you interpret “two months”). And you have to produce a vehicle before it can be delivered. And you have to work through any potential bugs of production before producing your first Founder Edition vehicles.
However, there were plenty of questions over on the TMC forum where the rumor was dropped. Release candidate cars? Demo cars? Founder Edition cars? What is going into production? There’s plenty of debate over there, and it mostly depends on how you interpret Elon’s words. What does “is” mean? That kind of thing.
I like this guesstimate from Yggdrasill:
I would think they would make a series of release candidate vehicles, and if they are good enough, they will be used for demo purposes, while if they aren’t good enough they will be crushed (minus all reusable parts).
When they then have the machinery running smoothly, they get the founders series completed, have a handover event and simultanous design studio reveal, and then they start making signature vehicles.
Sounds logical to me.
AB4EJ provides some extra perspective that I would say is quite likely informative of how Tesla would start production:
Even when you have multiple lines, a short factory shutdown when starting production on a new model is the usual practice (at least, that’s what we always have done at Mercedes) for several reasons –
– the production control computer system has to be activated to route the new vehicles; you want it down for this so you don’t screw up current production
– there are often shared resources between multiple lines, such as portions of the paint shop, buffers, etc.
– you have to move a bunch of inventory of parts around to get everything in the right places for the new model
– some of the same people are involved in both lines during startup and can only split their time so many ways
– a final training blitz for new team members
Note also – again, assuming Tesla is doing things similar to Mercedes assembly, which they often do, after this plant shutdown they can be expected to start producing customer-ready Model X cars (i.e., mid-August), which usually starts 4 to 6 weeks before actual deliveries. The reason for the 4 to 6 weeks is because the new cars have to have a much closer look from Quality Control, and can be expected to spend more time in repair until all production issues are solved.
Another forum member, A.G., adds: “In one of the Facebook groups for Tesla an employee confirmed that they have this week off as they are re-tooling.”
I think the story is clear.
The Model X is coming!