All eyes are on Wednesday’s Tesla 3Q earnings report and the expected update by CEO Elon Musk on Model 3 production numbers. One might recall that the California-based electric car maker reported an unremarkable 260 Model 3 vehicles produced and 220 delivered in the third quarter, citing “manufacturing bottlenecks” as the reason for missing its original guidance of 1,500 Model units produced by the end of September.
However, despite the downbeat production numbers, Wall St. firm Oppenheimer & Co. documented in a research note sent to investors that Model 3-specific machinery at Tesla’s factory was already operational and vehicles were making their way through the production line. A video shared by Musk showed Model 3 body panels being stamped on the production line in real-time. Oppenheimer linked the production bottleneck to suppliers that failed to meet their delivery time frames.
Now, nearly a month after Model 3 production challenges first surfaced, a query against the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration government site reveals that Tesla Model 3 production may have hit its stride and on the upswing. According to the nhtsa.gov, Tesla has registered Model 3 with VIN ending in 2639 to date, a change from VIN ending in the 1100s when the company reported that it had produced 260 Model 3 vehicles. The latest Model 3 Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) that was registered with the NHTSA is 5YJ3E1EA0HF002639.
Based on the rate of increase of Model 3 VINs being registered, data from last week suggests that Tesla is pacing at over 500 Model 3 VINS registered per week. While it’s still difficult to tell what the actual production numbers are for Model 3 and whether these VINs are being registered sequentially, one can speculate that Tesla is navigating the ramp portion of its production S-curve. After all, Musk did reveal on the day following his whiskey and hot dog-fueled Gigafactory camping excursion that the team has continued into the ~8th circle of production hell.
Btw, just want to express a word of appreciation for the hard work of the Tesla Gigafactory team. Reason I camped on the roof was because it was less time than driving to a hotel room in Reno. Production hell, ~8th circle …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2017
With reports that a supplier has received notice of their Model 3 parts orders being cut back from 5,000 per week to 3,000 per week, it’s expected that Tesla will report production numbers short of Musk’s original guidance. However, given the rapid increase in Model 3 VINs being registered and Musk’s penchant to execute, albeit on an overly optimistic timeline, there’s still high confidence that the underlying fundamentals to achieve Model 3 high volume production are in place. It’s only a matter of time before Model 3 will truly become a mass market vehicle.