Tesla hits Model 3 goal and is ‘real car company,’ Musk says

Tesla Inc. vehicles are transported on a truck after leaving the company’s manufacturing facility in Fremont, California, U.S., on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Bloomberg pic)

SAN FRANCISCO: Tesla Inc. reached its milestone of building 5,000 Model 3 vehicles in the final week of the quarter and in the process became “a real car company,” Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said.

“We did it!!” Musk proclaimed in an email to employees obtained by Bloomberg News on Sunday. “We either found a way or, by will and inventiveness, created entirely new solutions that were thought impossible.”

Hitting the target is another against-all-odds achievement for Musk, who first revealed the Model 3 in late 2016, and a relief for customers who have waited patiently for their electric cars. The 47-year-old Musk said he celebrated his birthday earlier this week at the factory, where he had been posting photographs of drive units and the paint shop to his social media accounts. To make the goal, he even built a tent to extend house a third general assembly line at the Fremont, California, factory.

“Intense in tents. Transporting entire production lines across the world in massive cargo planes. Whatever. It worked,” he wrote.

The company may hit 6,000 Model 3s a week next month, he wrote. Including Model S and X production, the factory knocked out 7,000 vehicles last week, he said.

The key will be whether Tesla can sustain the pace, said Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for AutoPacific Inc. “Reaching it is one thing,” he wrote in an email. “Consistently producing 5,000 per week with outstanding quality is another.”

Not impressed was Steven Armstrong, Ford Motor Co.’s CEO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “7000 cars, circa 4 hours (heart) Ford Team (heart)” Armstrong wrote on his verified Twitter account, parodying a similar tweet from Musk about Tesla’s weekly output.

Sunday celebration
The assembly plant reached the target by early Sunday, according to workers who asked not to be identified, with one saying cheers were heard at the end of the line around 5 a.m. local time. A photograph of employees signing a banner welcoming them to the “Model 3 5K Club” was deleted from Twitter and remains on Reddit.

Tesla is expected to release official numbers as soon as Monday. Reaching the target reflects a fevered pitch as production ramped up throughout the quarter. Three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg gave estimates for production, which averaged 30,167 total for the quarter — or roughly 2,320 cars a week.

In early June, Musk told shareholders at the annual meeting that he was feeling optimistic about Model 3 production thanks to a third general assembly line. It turns out that third line was being built outside — and under the massive tent.

“I think we just became a real car company,” Musk wrote.