has made a number of fancy electric cars, but making them so fancy
also means they’re incredibly expensive. The Model 3 is supposed to be
Tesla’s mainstream “budget” offering, though production has been slow
to get underway. Part of the problem may be the battery packs,
which are manufactured at the huge Gigafactory in Nevada. Some former
Tesla employees report that many Model 3 batteries were assembled by
hand, and there could be quality issues that make them more prone to
failure. Tesla, however, denies this.
Tesla Model S and X both start between $60,000 and $70,000, and a lot
of people simply won’t pay that much for a car no matter how good it
may be. However, the Model 3 is supposed to start at around $35,000,
making it a much more palatable option. Indeed, more than 400,000
people have paid a refundable $1,000 fee to reserve one of the
vehicles. CEO Elon Musk admits Model 3 production has been slow going.
to current and former Tesla engineers, Tesla was still making Model 3
batteries partly by hand in the Gigafactory as recently as the middle
of December. Production is supposed to be entirely automated, so the
company had to “borrow” dozens of workers from lithium-ion cell
supplier Panasonic to complete work on the batteries.
won’t necessarily matter to people how their batteries were assembled,
assuming they work correctly. However, some Tesla engineers
have told CNBC
that the batteries coming out of the Gigafactory could be flawed. They
claim some batteries were manufactured without enough space
between the individual lithium-ion cells. That can lead to shorts that
damage the battery; in a worst case, it could cause the battery to
Deadly Toxic Gigafactory.
spokesperson notes that Model 3 battery manufacturing has not reached
full production, and thus “by definition some elements of the
production process will be more manual.” Sources now say Tesla is
closer to fully automating Model 3 battery construction, but they
still have concerns about quality control.