The baby steps that were the start of the Tesla Model 3's production life have evolved into the strides of a toddler, with the company revealing it shipped five times as many sedans in Q1 as it did in Q4 last year.
Hundreds of thousands of customers pre-ordered Tesla's hotly anticipated Model 3 within a week of its grand reveal. At a cost of US$35,000 apiece, the company's debut electric sedan for the mass market promises a 215-mile (346-km) range, a sub-six-second 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) sprint and Tesla's evolving suite of autonomous driving technologies.
The company had planned to be producing 20,000 Model 3s a month by December 2017, but in a disappointing Q4 it shipped only 1,542. Following that, it set a target of 2,500 a week by the end of Q1 and then 5,000 a week by the end of Q2. It's numbers are starting to look a lot brighter, albeit still short of these lofty goals.
It produced a total of 34,494 vehicles in Q1, which it says was a 40 percent increase on Q4 and the most fruitful quarter in the company's history. Of those, 9,766 were Model 3s. Within that time, it was able to double weekly production of Model 3s and shipped a total of 8,180. In the past seven days, it produced 2,020.
Tesla's disappointing Q4 production results were compounded by a loss of US$675.4 million, the biggest quarterly loss in its short history. Reports have since emerged of CEO Elon Musk taking direct control of Model 3 production to get things back on track, something the billionaire moved to downplay the significance of on Twitter, while also kind of conceding he lives in a factory.
"Can't believe you're even writing about this," he said. "My job as CEO is to focus on what's most critical, which is currently Model 3 production. Doug, who I regard as one of the world's most talented engineering execs, is focused on vehicle engineering."
It is, of course, hard to tell whether the uptick in production is a result of Musk's involvement or a natural ramping up as a car company in relative infancy irons out manufacturing kinks. Either way, he appears to be throwing a lot of energy behind it.
"About a year ago, I asked Doug to manage both engineering & production," he continued. "He agreed that Tesla needed eng & prod better aligned, so we don't design cars that are crazy hard to build. Right now, tho, better to divide & conquer, so I'm back to sleeping at factory. Car biz is hell … "
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