It's a big victory to hastily produce an assembly facility in a tent in the parking lot of your mangled factory to build $55k compact cars that could be considered salvage-title rebuild quality to meet this production level at the last possible second. At least the workers on the floor get 3 days of training before they are building these things.The short term “story” isn’t about the production level (5000 units). It’s about sustaining that level over time, producing the ‘promised’ lower cost/contented vehicles at an acceptable level of quality.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk ordered his employees to stop putting nearly finished Model 3s through a critical test before leaving the company's factory in Fremont, California, according to an internal document viewed by Business Insider.
It's called the brake-and-roll test, and it ensures the car is correctly aligned.
An industry expert told Business Insider that every automaker does this test to ensure quality and function.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk appears to have asked engineers at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California, to remove a standard brake test, called the brake-and-roll test, from the tasks Model 3 cars must complete to move through production, according to internal documents seen by Business Insider.
The test was apparently shut down before 3 a.m. on June 26, according to a person familiar with the matter. It's unclear why this particular test was halted or for how long.
According to an industry expert, the brake-and-roll test is a critical part of the car manufacturing process, taking place during its final stages. The test ensures that the car's wheels are perfectly aligned and checks the brakes and their function by taking the vehicle's engine up to certain revolutions per minute and observing how they react on diagnostic machines.
In a statement, a Tesla representative, Dave Arnold, told Business Insider that every car goes through "rigorous quality checks," including brake tests.
When pressed on whether Musk himself gave the order to remove the brake-and-roll test, Arnold said, "I don't have anything further beyond the statement."
This is what the brake-and-roll test's step looks like in Tesla's internal production system.
brake and roll flowstepView photos
brake and roll flowstep
The far-left column shows what step the car has reached in the manufacturing process and what tasks must be done there.
The two key columns here are the ones labeled "critical" and "blocking." According to an employee at the company, they show it is apparently no longer necessary for the car to undergo this test before it leaves this step of the manufacturing process.
On the far right are all the descriptions of the tasks that should be performed at this station. However, since the criticality and blocking are off, the car can leave the station whether those tasks are performed or not, the employee said.
It's not clear how many cars, if any, have left the station without doing this test.
Ron Harbour, a consultant at Oliver Wyman who founded and writes "The Harbour Report," a worldwide guide to manufacturing, told Business Insider that after everything is installed in a car during the manufacturing process, a manufacturer would have to be very lucky for everything on a car to be in alignment.
"If you just abandon [the test], you could potentially have a lot of quality issues with your customers," he said. "Every plant does that ... It's part of finishing the build of the car."
Harbour told Business Insider he was unaware of any test that could adequately replace the brake-and-roll test on a manufacturing line.
By Alexandria Sage and Salvador Rodriguez
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Chief Executive Elon Musk barked at engineers on the Fremont, California assembly line. Tesla Inc tapped workers from other departments to keep pumping out the Model 3 electric sedans, disrupting production of the Model S and X lines. And weekend shifts were mandatory.
Tesla pulled out all the stops in the final week of June to meet its goal of making 5,000 Model 3s in a week, according to employees who spoke to Reuters. The sedan is essential to put money-losing Tesla on a path to profitability and prove that the electric car company can master mass production.
Whether Tesla can do it week in and week out - and without relying on overtime and extra hands - is another question, and one that weighed on investors.
Shares closed down 7.2 percent at $310.86 on Tuesday.
Leading up to Sunday morning's production milestone, Musk paced the Model 3 line, snapping at his engineers when the around-the-clock production slowed or stopped due to problems with robots, one worker said.
Tesla built a new line in just two weeks in a huge tent outside the main factory, an unprecedented move in an industry that takes years to plan out its assembly lines, and said the tented production area accounted for 20 percent of the Model 3s produced last week.
"They were borrowing people from our line all day to cover their (Model 3) breaks so the line would continue to move," said a Model S worker on Sunday.
"They've been throwing Model 3s ahead of the S to get painted to try to assure that they make their goal of 5,000," the worker said. "The paint department can't handle the volume."
Because of the focus on the Model 3, the S line was about 800 cars behind schedule to enter the paint shop, the worker said.
Any potential disruption of the Model S and X lines could threaten Tesla's target of building 100,000 of those vehicles in 2018. Tesla built 49,489 of those cars in the first half of this year.
Tesla said there had been no disruption to S and X productivity and noted it also built 1,913 of those vehicles during the last week of the quarter along with its Model 3s. A spokesperson also said workers from the S and X line had volunteered to help out on the 3 line.
Tesla built a total of 28,578 Model 3s in the second quarter, and 40,989 since production began last July, the company said.
Last week's big push also brought a rewrite of the employee attendance policy. After mandatory weekend shifts were assigned, two workers said, Tesla rescinded a policy promising workers at least one week's notice before weekend work.
"The manager and supervisor are verbally going around and saying: 'If you don't come in, you'll be written up'," one of the workers told Reuters last week.
Some employees are worried the frenetic pace plus long hours could burn out workers. One employee said they were told to keep working until they met their daily production mark, not when their shifts ended.
"They said starting tomorrow be prepared to work up to 12 hours," said the Model S employee on Monday. "It's going to be basically 12 hours from now on and I've got a feeling it's going to be six days a week."
To make its number, Tesla was willing to "spend any kind of money," a Gigafactory worker said, pointing to the new battery assembly-line flown in from Europe via cargo planes to the Gigafactory in May.
In the morning of Sunday, July 1, about five hours after the self-imposed second-quarter deadline had passed, the number 5,000 flashed on a countdown screen viewed by Tesla's Model 3 assembly-line workers. The Model 3 itself bore a "5,000" sign in its front window.
Tesla said on Monday that some of its Model 3 production would be on break as part of the July 4 holiday, with production to resume on Thursday. Tesla plans to build 6,000 Model 3s per week by August.
But the worker told to expect longer shifts warned that pushing assembly-line workers too hard could backfire.
"He (Musk) is going to go through an awful lot of people because people are going to start getting hurt left and right," by the fast-moving assembly line, the worker said.
"There's only so fast a person can move."
(Reporting by Alexandria Sage and Salvador Rodriguez; Editing by Greg Mitchell, Lisa Shumaker and Nick Zieminski)
The more likely scenario is that the chassis had 300 unnecessary welds that have now been removed.Omitting 300 welds? Beyond scary, kind of begs the question, if this is public information, at what point does NHSTA have a fiduciary responsibility/obligation to perform testing on cars where this change has been implemented?
It's a big risk for the Tesla group, and if I were their head of vehicle technology, I'd resign on that note too. Although he will likely be back one day in Washington to testify. Ask the guy from VW.
Came across an interesting article from Fortune, entitled "For investors, Tesla is a Bad Bet". The math is pretty sobering.Imagine if the CEO of any company ran by adults that wasn’t selling unicorn farts came out and told everyone how tough it was on HIM while running a crematorium for other people’s money.