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Disappointment of 2017: Tesla’s Model 3

2017-12-20 09:21

Image: AFP / Patricia De Melo Moreira

Lance Branquinho

Cape Town - Throughout this year the company founded by former Pretoria Boys High matriculant, Elon Musk, did some extraordinary things. It’s share price burst through the R4000 level, a new Roadster and electric truck were revealed, and an enormous Tesla battery was delivered to South Australia, assisting in alleviating the State’s pressing power grid crisis.

The one thing Tesla did not do in 2017, was build enough cars.

Or even the cars it had promised – for customers who had paid handsome deposits for them.

A company which is now considered more valuable than Ford by investors, cannot appear to fulfil the one function one would expect from a car company: assembling and delivering automobiles to waiting customers.

READ: Elon Musk's semi electric Tesla truck - Is it a good idea?

Model 3 has been a disaster for Tesla. The much vaunted ‘affordable’ battery-powered sedan is positively creeping out of Tesla’s Fremont factory at a rate of only a few hundred per month, whereas Tesla’s initial production goal was 5000 per week.

Labour unrest, factory safety and suspect product quality have all stunted the Model 3’s delivery schedule.

Showing off a new Roadster and electric truck is typical Tesla theatre, but it’s inconceivable how the company can satisfy Model 3 demand when its approach appears so diluted: bothering with future concepts whilst there are massive industrial engineering issues to be solved in its factory.

Issues which are not a simple algorithm fix, but instead: difficult, immersive physical engineering challenges.

At its peak Toyota delivered just shy of 8000 vehicles a week from the Fremont plant, Tesla’s average in the low hundreds are telling.

For customers who are keen to engage with the affordable – and promising – future of battery powered motoring, the ‘production hell’ (to quote Musk) of Model 3 has been the new car disappointment of 2017.

Tremendous technology. But it’s of no use if Tesla cannot scale it sufficiently. For those who paid their deposits early two years ago, the wait is testing.  

All articles and letters published on Wheels24 have been independently written by members of Wheels24's community. The views of users published on Wheels24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Wheels24. Wheels24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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