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Tesla halted Model 3 production line in February to focus on automation

Tesla reportedly halted its Model 3 production line in February, as part of a planned downtime aimed at improving the factory automation and production rate of its mass-market electric car.

The Model 3 is currently being manufactured at the company’s Fremont, CA factory, though its battery packs are being produced in the Nevada Gigafactory. According to a recent Bloomberg report, Tesla has confirmed the temporary downtime in the Model 3’s production from February 20-24. In an emailed statement to the publication, a Tesla spokesman noted that the halt in February was a planned downtime in the manufacture of Model 3, as a way to address bottlenecks and increase later manufacturing.

“Our Model 3 production plan includes periods of planned downtime in both Fremont and Gigafactory 1. These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates. This is not unusual and is, in fact, common in production ramps like this,” the Tesla spokesperson said.

Tesla’s temporary downtime of the Model 3’s production appears to be the carmaker’s way of preparing for a more deliberate, consistent manufacturing ramp-up. Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s estimated timeline for the target 5,000/week production pace for Model 3 had already been moved to end of Q2 2018, three months later than its previous goal. During the company’s Q4 2017 delivery report, Tesla adjusted its targets for the Model 3’s Q1 2018 goal as well, with the electric car maker estimating a manufacturing rate of 2,500/week.

Considering the recent downtime in the production of the Model 3, however, several members of Tesla’s forum community have expressed doubts on whether the Elon Musk-led firm could reach its updated Q1 2018 goals on time. With the California-based firm preparing to restart its production at a pace better than before, however, there is a good chance that Tesla’s goal of manufacturing 2,500 Model 3 per week by the end of March could still be attained.

As we noted in a previous report, Elon Musk recently made an appearance at SXSW, where the billionaire entrepreneur discussed his space exploration initiatives. During his appearance, Musk also admitted that his timelines have been quite optimistic so far.

“People have told me that my timelines historically have been optimistic,” he said.

Tesla’s Model 3 production is key to achieving Elon Musk’s goal of accelerating the transition of the transportation industry into a fully sustainable system. During the company’s Q4 2018 earnings report, the Tesla CEO noted that the company is exploring the idea of using The Boring Co.’s tunnels to increase the Model 3’s production volume. According to Musk, building a tunnel beneath the Fremont factory leading to its seat-making facility on Page Ave. would make the transport of materials far more streamlined.

“We are looking at building tunnels, using The Boring Company’s thing, because we have, for example, our seats production is at a separate building on Page. And we have a bunch of trucks moving seats back and forth between both the primary Fremont production and the seat factory.

“And we actually get constrained on how many trucks can we dock and undock at the seat factory, which is only, I don’t know, half a mile or a mile away from the vehicle plant. So it’ll be pretty easy to just have a tunnel, do an automated conveyance from seats to the factory,” Musk said.

Tesla halted Model 3 production line in February to focus on automation
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