Tesla's drive to build more Type 3 electric cars was expanded this week: on June 16, Musk announced that Tesla had built a "complete new production line" with "minimal resources" in just three weeks – a shiny red Model 3, the company's first dual-engine, all-wheel-drive model, housed in a very large tent. And as with all things, Tesla, the tent immediately became the center of attention.
Internet detectives sent and dissected satellite imagery, spy shots and aerial photographs of the new structure – though a reporter from Ars Technica noted that the tent was "easily seen from the nearby Warm Springs BART station platform" At least two Twitter users have camped this week in front of the tent shot stills and videos and put them on the platform.
More food came from RS Metrics, which analyzes satellite and aerial imagery and sells the data to institutional investors and hedge funds. After her pictures of the tents circulated, the company promoted its Tesla datasets, which focus primarily on the number of cars based on images of Tesla's parking lots, and in hundreds of dollars on Twitter.
"We saw this big structure being built and saw some cars spewing out of it and started wondering if this is the new assembly line they're talking about?" Says Alex Diamond, VP Product at RS metrics. "It was an exciting moment to see such a thing, but that's our business all day, we basically try to find information from the satellite data that helps our customers."
Some automotive and manufacturing experts were skeptical. "I can not say for sure, but I suspect that this is currently the only vehicle assembly for a full-size car currently taking place under a tent," said Karl Brauer, executive editor of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, The Verge . His colleague, Rebecca Lindland, a senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book and Cox Automotive, added, "Apparently, Tesla is preparing to prepare for the Mars occupation (Matt Damon in The Marsian )."
Amazing work by Tesla team. Within 3 weeks, a complete new production line with minimal resources was built. Love you guys so much! Pic of 1st Model 3 dual-engine power from the series … pic.twitter.com/Xr55P3fmGd
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 16, 2018
Additional capacity has one come for a long time for Tesla. Last year, Elon Musk said his factory in Fremont, California, was "bursting at the seams" producing Model S and X vehicles. Now that the company is in an insane sprint to produce 5,000 Model 3 sedans a week, including the more expensive, twin-engine version of the car, Tesla needed more manufacturing space.
Tesla's ability to reach the benchmark of 5,000 model 3s a week by the end of June is crucial, as the company has said it Everyone who makes money until they are produced at this rate will lose money. This means that the company is far from using the 25 percent margin it is expected to bring to the Model 3.
Tesla must also prove that it can be a mass vehicle if it is to achieve Musk's vision of widespread EV adoption. So far, however, the production of Model 3 was a bumpy ride. The cars rolled off the company's production lines last summer, but due to production bottlenecks at the Fremont plant and the battery-focused Gigafactory in Nevada, Musk had to lower its targets by the end of 2017.
Despite attempting to automate the car's production, Musk finally decided to build the cars with a more balanced mix of robots and humans. The CEO also admitted that, as with the Model X, some of the early production issues were caused by "too much new technology" in Model 3. Meanwhile, there were problems at the Gigafactory, as the production rate slowly increased, causing Tesla to fly aircraft construction of six aircraft from Germany to Nevada to quickly complete capacity building.
Musk told shareholders in early June that the company is producing 500 model 3 per day, or about 3,500 per week on average. But a recent report from Business Insider raises doubts that Tesla will reach the target of 5,000 a week. And with less than two weeks to go before the deadline, the struggling electric startup company is racing to avoid a big surprise.
At least one analyst thinks that the tent is a clever, if entirely new, step to increase production. "When you mine it, cars in a tent, I've never heard of it," said Jeremy Acevedo, manager of industrial analysis in Edmunds. "We've seen automakers get nimble with their production, but not go so far as to shift their production to a semi-permanent structure that I know."
There is even disagreement over whether the structure should be called or not. A tent. "Fred Lambert, who works on the Pro Tesla site Electrek noted that it is" a jump structure that is a much stronger building type that can actually be used permanently. Dana Hull, who covers Tesla for Bloomberg sardonically describes it as "a high-performance membrane structure." Musk himself seems to be okay calling it a "giant tent." He too boasted about the view and welcoming reporter thoughtfully to visit them. (A Tesla spokesman declined to comment on this story.)
Tesla had applied for a temporary building permit for the tent, but Mosch now apparently intends to make it permanent.For the moment, the city of Fremont has provisionally approved the tent project for six months, but no formal construction tests have been planned Approval may be extended for another six months.
The General Assembly in a tent poses a number of challenges, and most assembly equipment is not for the one suitable for outdoor use. In general, automobile manufacturers prefer to operate in a controlled environment of constant humidity and temperature. This applies in particular to the use of sealants and adhesives. In traditional factories, long before the equipment gets in, the workers spend weeks building concrete foundations for all the equipment, so there is relatively little movement – something that can be a real problem when you move several thousand pound items on the line.
"Part of the large, robust production structures in which these vehicles are built is that the walls and ceiling are important aspects in setting up these areas," said Acevedo. Reaching the top of the vehicle as well as moving the sides and underlying vehicles is a critical aspect of production and quality control. "They are wondering exactly what they did to replicate that in a tent," he added.