Posted on April 28, 2017 by Matt Pressman
Tesla [NASDAQ: TSLA] is actively taking important steps to prep for it's upcoming Model 3 product launch. First, Tesla plans to fast-track production tooling for the Model 3. According to Reuters, Elon Musk explained that “advanced analytical techniques” (a.k.a. computer simulations) will help Tesla quickly advance to production tooling. It turns out that Audi also used "computer simulations of production tools... That process allowed the [Audi Mexico] plant to launch production 30 percent faster than usual, Audi said. An Audi executive involved in the Mexican plant launch, Peter Hochholdinger, is now Tesla's vice president of production."
Above: According to the photographer of this new spy shot published yesterday, this looks to be our first view of a white Tesla Model 3 (Instagram: robinadastra)
Reuters also notes that "Tesla has learned to better modify final production tools, and its 2015 purchase of a Michigan tooling company means it can make major equipment 30 percent faster than before, and more cheaply as well." In addition to Tesla's efforts to expedite production tooling, Electrek reports that "Tesla has received a massive order of robots for its production line. Hundreds of Kuka robots arrived at Tesla’s Fremont factory and are now being installed." A source identified as a "Field Service Engineer for Kuka Robotics" posted images (see below) of the new robots being unpacked and installed in Fremont.
Above: Source revealed that Kuka was commissioned to install “467 robots and 21 KL slides” over the next 7 1/2 weeks, which places the expected finish time in mid-June – weeks before the planned started of Tesla's Model 3 production (Source: Electrek)
In addition, Tesla is accelerating it's Supercharger network buildout in order to ready itself for the Model 3. The company wrote on their blog, "As Tesla prepares for our first mass-market vehicle and continues to increase our Model S and Model X fleet, we’re making charging an even greater priority. It is extremely important to us and our mission that charging is convenient, abundant, and reliable for all owners, current and future. In 2017, we’ll be doubling the Tesla charging network, expanding existing sites so drivers never wait to charge, and broadening our charging locations within city centers."
That's right — Tesla is actively working to double its Superchargers this year "to total more than 10,000 Superchargers and 15,000 Destination Charging connectors around the world. In North America, we’ll increase the number of Superchargers by 150 percent, and in California alone we’ll add more than 1,000 Superchargers... Tesla will build larger sites along our busiest travel routes that will accommodate several dozen Teslas Supercharging simultaneously. In addition, many sites will be built further off the highway to allow local Tesla drivers to charge quickly when needed, with the goal of making charging ubiquitous in urban centers."
Above: New Tesla Model 3 spy video released yesterday (Youtube: James Yeager)
Electrek also reported that, "Tesla is simplifying the training and reducing the cost to become certified to repair its vehicles, which should result in overall lower cost and better access to repair." I-Car, a body shop industry group working with Tesla wrote, "Model 3 is just around the corner and we have been making a number of significant improvements to the Body Repair Program in preparation for the increased volumes Model 3 will bring." This will help Tesla greatly expand their network of certified body shops in order to effectively service the Model 3.
Looking at all these strategic moves (and spy shots), it's clear Tesla is actively positioning itself for its biggest product launch in company history. And each of these critical steps — fast-tracking production tooling/robots, massive Supercharger buildout, and more Tesla-certified body shops — will collectively help Tesla ready itself for it's first mass market vehicle, the Model 3.