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Elon Musk aims for a Tesla factory 100 times more efficient by “building the machines that build the machine”

Elon Musk annual meeting 2016

Elon Musk believes factories of the future can be up to 100 times more efficient by applying “physics first principals.” That was just part of what he had to say at the company’s annual meeting on May 31.

During the Tesla Motors annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, CEO Elon Musk remarked that he and his team are working on ways to improve the efficiency of its current and any future factories by a factor of 10 to 100 times. By focusing on “physics-first principles,” Musk said, he is convinced the production capacity can be increased exponentially if they focus on “building the machines that build the machine”.

“The most important point I want to make is … that we’ve realized that the true difficulty and where the greatest potential lies is in building the factory,” Musk said. He claims even the world’s best automotive factories today — including the Tesla factory in Fremont — are hampered by outmoded and inefficient systems.

“We can make dramatic improvements to the machine that makes the machine. A lot of people will not believe us about this, but I am absolutely convinced this can be accomplished.”

Musk had a response for those who question whether Tesla really can ramp up production from just over 50k cars a year today to more than 500k in 2018 and 1 million in 2020. He says going from 1,500 Roadsters to where the company is today was actually harder. He sees no reason why his new goals can’t be met, especially if the improvements in efficiency he is targeting can be implemented.

Is this more hubris from the man who just admitted hubris is an issue for him? Perhaps. But Musk has shown a consistent pattern of setting the bar high and then raising it. The Gigafactory will be able to drive down the cost of batteries by consolidating all the operations in the production process under one roof. If Musk can do the same with traditional automobile manufacturing, he will have forever altered the way products are made.

Amongst other topics covered during the three and a half hour freewheeling talk, Musk and CTO JB Straubel traced the history of the company pausing to note the many occasions when it almost failed on the road to becoming what it is today. Musk also suggested that Model 3 owners would be required to purchase an optional ‘package’ in order to use its Supercharger network. Musk also noted that the operation of the Model X falcon wing doors will continue to improve and a future software update will finally address remaining issues making the doors “better than normal doors”.

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