Tesla readies for Model 3 production in July, initial crash test results “positive”

Tesla’s much anticipated Model 3 will begin to see production beginning in July, before ramping to volume production by September. The announcement was made Wednesday when Tesla reported its Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2016 update letter, during which the company revealed that Model 3 production was “on track” for July.

The news comes on the heels of recent announcements that Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California had temporarily shut down operations in preparation for Model 3 retooling.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk fielded a variety of questions around the Model 3 in today’s Q&A call, during which he further reaffirmed the company’s position that Model 3 will see volume production of roughly 5,000 vehicles per week sometime in the fourth quarter. Tesla expects to ramp Model 3 production to 10,000 vehicles per week in 2018.

Tesla Advanced Automation Germany formed through the acquisition of Grohmann Engineering last year will be responsible for building manufacturing processes that will be initially used for Model 3 production.

Today’s earnings report also confirms earlier rumors that Tesla would begin test builds of Model 3 prototypes this month. First Model 3 prototypes were built this month as part of the company’s effort to assess manufacturing processes. Tesla indicates that vehicle development, supply chain and manufacturing have been primed for volume deliveries later this year.

“In early February, we began building Model 3 prototypes as part of our ongoing testing of the vehicle design and manufacturing processes.”

The company also revealed in its earnings report that initial crash test results for the Model 3 prototypes were “positive, leading the company to move forward on its planned July production timeframe.

“Initial crash test results have been positive, and all Model 3-related sourcing is on plan to support the start of production in July. Installation of Model 3 manufacturing equipment is underway in Fremont and at Gigafactory 1, where in January, we began production of battery cells for energy storage products, which have the same form-factor as the cells that will be used in Model 3.”

The Model 3 will utilize Tesla’s latest 2170 high performance lithium ion battery cell that’s produced in conjunction with strategic partner Panasonic at the Gigafactory. As indicated in the letter to investors, Model 3 will share the same battery cells currently being produced for the company’s Powerwall and Powerpack energy storage products. Model 3 battery pack production is scheduled to begin in the second quarter.

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