It likely isn’t much of a shock, but the start of Tesla Model 3 production has been anything but smooth. CEO Elon Musk already prepared eager owners after saying the Model 3 is deep in “production hell.”
The production woes are likely due to the Model 3’s welding process. Tesla, which has used all aluminum bodies with its Model S and Model X electric cars, uses steel and aluminum in the Model 3. Therefore, the process requires more welding, and analysis from Automotive News shows the electric-car maker is having difficulties with the process.
After Musk posted a video of the Model 3 running down the production line at one-tenth of its potential speed, Michael Tracy, an automotive manufacturing consultant, broke down what he saw. The video shows sparks flying as robotic arms perform the welds, something Tracy says isn’t ideal.
“Resistance welding should make a little smoke, but when you see stuff popping out like that, that’s called expulsion,” he said. “It’s symptomatic of weld spots getting too hot because they’re poorly planned, or in this case, the metal not being pulled all the way together.”
Tesla built just 260 Model 3s in quarter three of this year after it expected to assemble 1,500.
Meanwhile, Tesla fired hundreds of employees at various levels of the company after performance reviews. According to Reuters, the company let “about 400” people go.
It’s a critical time for Tesla. Competitors continue to close in on the company’s once-competitive advantage. Specifically, General Motors’ Chevrolet Bolt EV is already available nationwide and it will launch two new battery-electric cars in the next 18 months. It plans for 20 new electric cars by 2023.