As we all know, Tesla Model X production was delayed for years. I’ve seen strong arguments that was strategic (Model S demand was much higher than initially anticipated) more than forced, but very few people know what the actual story was. In any case, though, production has been held up in the past half a year to year due to a variety of bottlenecks.
We already knew about some challenges with the falcon-wing doors and second-row seats. Tesla brought the production of the second-row seats in-house in order to deal with that big challenge.
But CEO Elon Musk & CTO JB Straubel noted on Tesla’s recent conference call that more recent delays have been caused by much smaller and more obscure supply & production limitations. As you can hear here (24:02 in), JB noted that, “even some of the most innovative features on X — you know, that caused some challenges in Q4 — have really been largely overcome today… you know, the operation of the falcon doors, the sourcing & supply of the large glass windscreen — these things are working very well, and are not a bottleneck at this point.” Elon followed up by stating, “Exactly, some of the things that caused us issues are somewhat counterintuitive. They’re not the obvious things. For at least a few week — I mean, maybe 3 or 4 weeks actually — the constraint was the chrome finish on the brightwork around the window, the front window.” It was apparently the seals there that were causing the trouble. The seals actually ended up getting redesigned and then the ones they had to be reworked by hand.
Tesla has also been working through fit & finish quality challenges, which hamper the production of every new car — not the least, what is possibly the most complicated (and best) mass-production car on the market. Still, Elon is projecting (tentatively) 700–800 Model X produced on average in quarter 2, reaching a peak of 1,000/week at some point in the middle or at the end of the quarter. For the year as a whole, Tesla is still projecting combined Model S and Model X production will = 1600–1800/week, on average, for 2016.
Back to recent Model X delays, the statement Elon/Tesla prepared for the shareholder letter is as follows: “In January 2016, we limited Model X production for a period of time to maintain our quality production standards. We are already seeing improvement from these efforts and we are now significantly increasing our Model X production throughout the balance of the quarter. We anticipate approaching a Model X production rate of 1,000 vehicles a week in Q2.”