Tesla to begin pilot production of Model 3 in 10 days

Tesla just announced that it will take a week-long break in production at its Fremont, California assembly plant this month to prepare to start producing Model 3. The company told Reuters that it would use the “brief, planned” pause to add capacity to its paint shop and perform general maintenance. “This will allow Tesla to begin Model 3 production later this year as planned and enable us to start the ramp towards 500,000 vehicles annually in 2018,” said a Tesla spokesman, adding that the production pause was not expected to affect Q1 production or delivery figures, as the company had added production days to compensate.


Above: Tesla Model 3 (Instagram: tesla_gram)

The reason this is such momentous news, and why TSLA stock has soared to near-record highs, is that the mainstream press has been universally skeptical that Tesla would make its target date of July 2017 to begin Model 3 production. This week’s announcement makes it much more likely that Tesla will deliver its mission-critical vehicle on time after all. (Those of more faith noted Musk’s assurances that the company learned from past mistakes, and designed Model 3 to be easy to manufacture, sans gull wing doors and other complex features that led to delays with Model X.)


Above: TSLA stock chart from December - February has been steadily climbing (Image: CNBC)

Reuters also reports, citing unnamed sources, that the California carmaker plans to begin building pre-production units on February 20, two days before it reports fourth-quarter earnings. “What better way to stoke the fan base and Wall Street than to wheel out pre-production models?” said the anonymous source. And, meanwhile, we’re slowly getting a better idea of what the battery options for Model 3 might be. Tesla said last year that the base version would have a battery pack smaller than 60 kWh. Earlier this week, Elon Musk dashed hopes that a 100 kWh pack would be available. “Wheelbase can’t fit 100,” he tweeted.


Above: Elon Musk talks Tesla Model 3 (image: TechCrunch)

So, no one knows at this point exactly what pack sizes will be offered. However, Electrek, citing “sources familiar with the program,” reports that Tesla is testing a Model 3 mule with a 70 kWh battery and dual motors (Tesla wouldn’t comment). According to Electrek, such a configuration could give the car a range of 300 miles, considerably more than the 215 miles that Musk has promised for the base version. Of course, this is just an educated guess, so before we devote too much energy to speculation, let’s remember that a “Part 3 Reveal” event, at which these questions will probably be answered, is expected to occur around March.


Above: Spy shot of the matte black Tesla Model 3 (Image: BGR)

Wall Street analyst, Baird's Ben Kallo, says "We expect updates on the Model 3 and Gigafactory production ramps on the [earnings] call, which we believe will drive shares higher." That said, there might be updates coming before the earnings call. Some additional chatter in the Tesla-sphere includes a few more (unsubstantiated, albeit exciting) whispers about the Model 3. To check out what's being said, get the inside scoop from Trevor Page, Founder of the Model 3 Owners Club, in his video below...


Above: Trevor Page may have uncovered some big news on the Tesla Model 3 front (Youtube: Model 3 Owners Club)


Source: Reuters, Electrek, Model 3 Owners Club