"Words Fail Me. It's Insanity": Inside Tesla's "Preposterous" Model 3 Production Tent

Bears and bulls alike following Tesla's gripping nailbiter of a story - the company has until the end of the month to pump out 5,000 Model 3 sedans a week - both agree on one thing: the output of the company's new "tent" structure which Musk erected recently to produce Model 3 vehicles is going to decide whether or not the company hits its production goal that it has touted over the last couple of months.

Photo Credits: Bloomberg

The tent was erected in just a matter of weeks, and came online in early June, to help the company produce more vehicles at a time when they are under the microscope. Until recently, we didn’t know the details as to when it was erected, what the timing looked like and what it is expected to produce. However, a Bloomberg article out today helped shed some light on the details of what is arguably the most important - if archaic - structure that Tesla has built yet.

Not surprisingly, opinions extend the whole gamut, with some manufacturing experts claiming the tent is "basically nuts":

Elon Musk has six days to make good on his pledge that Tesla Inc. will be pumping out 5,000 Model 3 sedans a week by the end of the month. If he succeeds, it may be thanks to the curious structure outside the company’s factory. It’s a tent the size of two football fields that Musk calls “pretty sweet” and that manufacturing experts deride as, basically, nuts.

...

Inside the tent in Fremont, California, is an assembly line Musk hastily pulled together for the Model 3. That’s the electric car that is supposed to vault Tesla from niche player for the wealthy to high-volume automaker, bringing a more affordable electric vehicle to the masses.

Analysts at Bernstein are equally unimpressed. Here is a quote from Max Warburton who benchmarked auto assembly plants before his job as a financial analyst:  “Words fail me. It’s insanity,” said Max Warburton, who benchmarked auto-assembly plants around the world before becoming a financial analyst.

Ironically, Musk's "Hail Mary" is the polar opposite of Tesla's own vision for its future of state of the art robotics, hermetically sealed manufacturing facilities and millisecond efficiency.

To be sure, the tent is also a far cry from the automation that investors were promised during the early days of Tesla. The company‘s goal, which once was to have a state of the art factory producing vehicles, has now been reduced to a literal tent using manual labor and spare parts to put together cars. Worse, nobody seems to even know whether or not the line is up and running. Welcome to the future?

Musk announced it on Twitter on June 16, saying the company had put together an “entire new general assembly line” in three weeks with spare parts; the building permit was issued on June 13, though the company could have started working on aspects of the project before that.

Whether this new line is fully operational is unclear. Company officials declined to comment. The Tesla-obsessed users of Twitter and other internet forums have posted photos and videos and comments either praising or ridiculing the parking-lot big top. Apparently in response to the intense interest, the tent has recently been surrounded by very large trucks, which obstruct the view.

Predictably, the tent is being called a "hail mary" move by analysts, after the company finally admitted that its vision for automation and assembly - pitched as the "most sophisticated in the world" as recently as February 2018 -was  simply "not working":

What gives manufacturing experts pause about Tesla’s tent is that it was pitched to shelter an assembly line cobbled together with scraps lying around the brick-and-mortar plant. It smacks of a Hail Mary move after months of stopping and starting production to make on-the-fly fixes to automated equipment, which Musk himself has said was a mistake.

The existing line isn’t functional, it can’t build cars as planned and there isn’t room to get people into work stations to replace the non-functioning robots,” Warburton said in an email. “So here we have it—build cars manually in the parking lot.”

As Bloomberg notes, an April admission that he erred by putting too many robots in Tesla’s plants was a humbling moment for Musk. The chief executive officer had boasted in the past that his company would build an “alien dreadnought,” sci-fi bro code for a factory so advanced and robotic, it would be incomprehensible to primitive earthlings.

During a February earnings call, Musk told analysts that Tesla had an automated-parts conveyance system that was “probably the most sophisticated in the world.” But by the spring, it had been ripped out of the factory.

“We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts,” Musk told CBS This Morning in April. “And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”

Analyst Dave Sullivan, who previously used to supervise Ford factories and now works at AutoPacific, chimed in: "To say that it’s more efficient to build this with scrap pieces laying around means that either somebody made really bad decisions with the parts in the plant inside, or there are a lot of other problems yet to be discovered with Tesla’s efficiency.”

The article concludes with what may be the most suitable epitaph for Tesla should Musk disappoint in a few days when he reports Q2 production figures.

“It’s preposterous,” Bernstein’s Warburton said.

“I don’t think anyone’s seen anything like this outside of the military trying to service vehicles in a war zone. I pity any customer taking delivery of one of these cars. The quality will be shocking.”

Preposterous or not, the clock is ticking on Tesla.

The company has just days before it has to update investors on the current state of production and how the business is running. If the tent is any indication, expect many to voice their disappointments out in the open...

Comments

 
 
 
Profile picture for user any_mouse
any_mouse  greenskeeper carl Mon, 06/25/2018 - 20:17 Permalink

Here's what AI journalism gets you:

"Here is a quote from Max Warburton who benchmarked auto assembly plants before his job as a financial analyst:  “Words fail me. It’s insanity,” said Max Warburton, who benchmarked auto-assembly plants around the world before becoming a financial analyst."

Thrown a few billion dollars at journo-bot and maybe it will get better. Meanwhile the ad bots get all the dollars.

Warburton, interesting name, any connection to Warburg?

In reply to by greenskeeper carl

Profile picture for user Dickweed Wang
Dickweed Wang  any_mouse Mon, 06/25/2018 - 20:36 Permalink

And the auto guys in Detroit keep laughing their asses off . . . "Largest car company in the world by market cap" - yeah right.  That shows how worthless it is to gauge a company's real value based on that metric.

In reply to by any_mouse

Profile picture for user jcaz
jcaz  Dickweed Wang Mon, 06/25/2018 - 20:58 Permalink

"Hey, what's all this dirt and crap on the inside of my car?"

"Are these ants and cockroaches standard, or do I have to pay extra?"

So lemme get this straight- you want me to pay you $55K to buy a car you built in a tent in your backyard..... You're soon gonna live in a van down by the river......

Seriously-  very few chop shops look this hinky, let alone "America's Largest Car Manufacturer"........

In reply to by Dickweed Wang

Profile picture for user Carla Houston
Carla Houston  jcaz Mon, 06/25/2018 - 21:20 Permalink

 

I'm ­­­­­­­­­ making ­­­­­­­­­over­­­­­­­­­ $13k­­­­­­­­­ in one month­­­­­­­­­ working­­­­­­­­­ part ­­­­­­­­­time. I kept ­­­­­­­­­hearing ­­­­­­­­­other ­­­­­­­­­people ­­­­­­­­­tell ­­­­­­­­­me how much ­­­­­­­­­money ­­­­­­­­­they ­­­­­­­­­can ­­­­­­­­­make ­­­­­­­­­online so I ­­­­­­­­­decided to look­­­­­­­­­ into it. ­­­­­­­­­Well, it was­­­­­­­­­ all true­­­­­­­­­ and has totally ­­­­­­­­­changed my ­­­­­­­­­life.­­­­­­­­­last month­­­­­­­­­ my ­­­­­­­­­pay c­­­­­­­­­heck was ­­­­­­­­­$12712 ­­­­­­­­­just ­­­­­­­­­working on the laptop for­­­­­­­­­ a few hours.Every person can now makes good income online easily by just follow instructions on this link.......

====http://www.todaysfox.com

In reply to by jcaz

Profile picture for user Tarzan
Tarzan  Carla Houston Mon, 06/25/2018 - 21:52 Permalink

"The chief executive officer had boasted in the past that his company would build an “alien dreadnought,” sci-fi bro code for a factory so advanced and robotic, it would be incomprehensible to primitive earthlings."

During a February earnings call, Musk told analysts that Tesla had an automated-parts conveyance system that was “probably the most sophisticated in the world.” But by the spring, it had been ripped out of the factory.

“We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts,” Musk told CBS This Morning in April. “And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”

And they say robots are going to take all of our jobs.

In reply to by Carla Houston

Profile picture for user Keyser
Keyser  garypaul Tue, 06/26/2018 - 00:46 Permalink

I wonder how long it will be before Musk is caught dealing cocaine out of the trunk of a Model 3 in order to make payroll for the week? If it were not for Obozo's subsidies to Musk, we wouldn't be talking about this topic, Tesla would have gone the way of the DoDo bird a long time ago...

In reply to by garypaul

Profile picture for user giovanni_f
giovanni_f  DaiRR Tue, 06/26/2018 - 02:24 Permalink

it is high time to punish the Europeans with their high tariffs which hurt a.o. Tesla and similar American quality manufacturers.

I think it is fair at this point to confiscate BMW and VW factories and forfeit all other assets pertainig to aggressive Germany's state capitalism straw companies and hand them all over to Tesla, GM, Ford.

Time to strike back against those foreign invaders.

In reply to by DaiRR

Profile picture for user Last of the Middle Class
Last of the Mi…  Bronze Tue, 06/26/2018 - 08:36 Permalink

This is attempt to build in a "tent" will mostly likely expose the horrible inefficiences that exist in the production line system as a whole. It takes a truly massive effort to maintain a "just in time" supply system for a small business to say nothing of an automobile production facility. 

What is in danger of being openly exposed, more so than building the cars in a fricking tent, is the amateurish application of a real world assembly line by the worlds's most successful professional carney. As time goes on, the gap between real world application and fantasy salesmanship will only widen. 

Musk is out of his league and the tent facility exposes this in spades. 

In reply to by Bronze

Profile picture for user Bubba Rum Das
Bubba Rum Das  Bronze Tue, 06/26/2018 - 08:40 Permalink

I still have this question stuck in my head; what percentage of all this is true autistic mental retardation on the part of Musk; & what percentage is just outright absolute fraud? 60%/40%? 40%/60%? 5%/95%?

 

My feeling is it's actually around 80% retardation on Musks part to even think he can pull this shit off, & around 98% direct fraud on his part....!

 

In reply to by Bronze

Profile picture for user CuttingEdge
CuttingEdge  buffed Tue, 06/26/2018 - 06:52 Permalink

Sadly, I'm not allowed to forget it.

The wife got chatted up by some bloke at an auto fair way back, and he let her drive his DeLorean. A story that always comes out in company. Personally, I prefer my taking Mansell's Ferrari Testarossa (gift from the team) for a quick spin when we had it in our workshops for some serious audio love.

That engine howl stays with you for life...shite handling though.

In reply to by buffed