Tesla’s grand unveiling of the Model 3 on Friday managed to whet the appetites of electric car fans by showing them exactly what they’re in for — just not when.
The live-streamed event, hosted by CEO Elon Musk at Tesla’s Fremont factory showed off the bells and whistles of the Model 3 — which will come in “Standard” and “Long Range” versions. It all sounds great, but maybe a little too great, judging by what may be an intentionally vague production graph Tesla posted on Twitter Friday night.
The sleekly-designed graph shows the Model 3’s “s-curve” of production — implying with more time, there will be more cars (literally the bars of the graph are made of cars).
Back in April, Tesla announced that it had already received 325,000 preorders for its first affordably-priced electric vehicle. The number of orders is surely higher by now, and Musk admitted Friday that keeping up would be a challenge. “Frankly we’re going to be in production hell,” he said during the Model 3 event.
Musk said that the Freemont car factory would ultimately produce 500,000 Model 3s, “and maybe more if we can do it.”
In terms of cars per month, Musk said the initial target is set at 5,000 cars a week, and hopefully by the end of next year, the company will hit 10,000 a week.
“If you order a Model 3 now, you’ll probably get it towards the end of next year,” Musk said.
Probably is a key word here. In 2016 Tesla produced 83,922 cars in total. Gearing up to hit the targets they’ve set for the Model 3 alone will mean a major step up in terms of productivity.
The lack of concrete figures for the arrival of your freshly-ordered Model 3 could be attributed to the sheer intricacy of the car’s makeup, according to Musk. “When you have 10,000 unique items in a vehicle, any one of them can slow down production,” Musk said. “We’re building the cars as fast as we can.”
In other words, it’s still a new car, and production relies on the efficacy and amount of time it takes to get all 10,000 parts — a third of which are being imported to the Tesla factory from around the world — working succinctly.
Musk put it to the audience straight: “The thing that’s going to be a major challenge for us over the next six to nine months is: how do we build a huge number of cars?”
We might have to wait for the next graph to get a real sense of how they’re doing.
You can watch Elon Musk unveil the Model 3 at the official event at Tesla’s Fremont factory below:
With additional reporting by Neel V. Patel and Jack Crosby.