Tesla Factory Racing To Re-tool For New Models

Categories: Mobility

He said those numbers will continue to climb. Tesla will be able to make as many as 50,000 Model X SUVs in 2016, Musk said.

By the time the Model 3 is in production, he said, the factory should be able to produce 10,000 cars a week — a number some analysts doubt, given Tesla's projected figure of 10,000 vehicles in the first quarter of 2015.

"How's he going to do that?" asked Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer. "How's he even going to get to 55,000 a year?"

Increasingly mindful of the delays, Musk told analysts that the first versions of the Model 3, at least, will not be an "adventurous" engineering exercise.

"We're being quite conscientious about that," he said. "We're not going to go super-crazy with the initial design of the Model 3."

In the most recent delay, Tesla underestimated how many buyers would want the new, faster Model S.

"It turns out — a lot!" the sometimes self-deprecating Musk said. "It's difficult to forecast demand. I'd love to figure out how to be less stupid about this in the future."

The factory was built in 1962 as a GM plant and later became a joint GM-Toyota operation that produced half a million Toyota Corollas, Matrixes, Geo Prisms and Pontiac Vibes a year. It has the capacity for a swing shift, if needed, and even 24-hour production.

But the 380-acre campus, which sits off Interstate 880 northeast of San Jose, just miles from the plant where Ford Motor Co. once produced Mustangs, has run out of parking places for workers, Musk said.

Most of the estimated 10,000 parts that go into a Tesla are manufactured on site. Some performance parts, such as the Brembo braking systems, are made elsewhere, as are the batteries — for now. They come from Panasonic Corp.'s factories in Japan, but in the future they will be made at Tesla's $5-billion "gigafactory" under construction outside Sparks, Nev.

The Fremont factory shows an impressive attention to detail.

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