On Thursday, sources within Tesla told Reuters that Elon Musk's electric auto company plans to start test production for the highly anticipated Model 3 on February 20. "Tesla is the last auto company left in California, because costs are so high", Elon Musk said in a direct message on Twitter via Gizmodo.
Company Chief Executive Elon Musk told investors previous year that there were over 370,000 customers who gave deposits for the Model 3 sedan, so he planned to start manufacturing the vehicles in July 2017. Reuters reports that the automaker is now retooling its Fermont (California) factory to set up a test assembly for its affordable Model 3 variant, starting February 20th. Flawless timing for the production to start, isn't it? An insider familiar with Tesla's current ongoing decisions stated that rolling out pre-production models would "stoke" the fan base of Tesla and also the Wall Street.
The rapid expansion is to accommodate demand for the soon-to-be-released Model 3 sedan, Tesla's first mass-market vehicle.
Tesla disclosed in May that it had taken 373,000 refundable US$1,000 (RM4,450) deposits for the Model 3, underscoring its appeal ahead of production. February 20 is two days prior to Tesla's planned fourth-quarter results shareholder meeting. This is line with a warning from Musk as well, as he told investors past year that there was a possibility of the delay with its July 2017 production target.
In 2016, Tesla stated that it aims to speed up the production of its best-selling model Model 3 earlier than planned. At its peak, that factory was turning out 500,000 cars a year before both companies decided it was no longer profitable to manufacture automobiles there and shut down operations, putting thousands out of work. Critics had called out the company then, saying its timeline was too ambitious, particularly because the company had a history of under-delivering in terms of numbers. "As more of my coworkers speak out, I hope that we can start a productive conversation about building a fair future for all who work at Tesla". As to what stock options workers get or what they are worth, there is no information.
Whether or not the Model 3 is delivered within the company's self-imposed target will remain unclear for at least a few more months. Tesla declined to comment on whether the design was still being tinkered with. The other variants - Model X and Model S - both faced delays in production due to initial quality-related issues.
Given this news, we expect to see the production-spec Model 3 sooner than later.
That track record meant some analysts were skeptical that Musk would launch production by July.