Leading up to the Model 3 launch, Tesla CEO Elon Musk boasted that Model 3 production would reach 20,000 units per month by the end of December 2017. An ambitious goal to say the least, Musk claimed that Tesla would be able to ramp up supply at a rapid clip due to a number of factors. For starters, Musk said that the Model 3 was decidedly easier to manufacture than previous Tesla vehicles. Second, Musk said that Tesla had learned quite a great deal from earlier missteps made with both the Model S and Model X. And third, Musk was confident that Model 3 production would go off without a hitch due to a growing army of advanced robots Tesla ordered to help streamline production.
Though Tesla had used advanced robots in manufacturing before, Model 3 production was said to be something different, with Musk at one point claiming that the Model 3 production line might resemble an “alien dreadnought.”
“The point at which that’s what the factory looks like, that’s when you know you’ve won,” Musk said back in 2016. Driving the point home, Musk later added: “You can’t have people in the production line itself, otherwise you drop to people speed.”
A few months removed from the Model 3 launch, and with mass production still a few months behind schedule, Musk has apparently had a change of heart. Specifically, Musk during a recent interview with CBS News articulated that relying so heavily upon automation for Model 3 mass production was, with the benefit of hindsight, a big mistake.
When asked if Tesla’s army of robots slowed down production at times, Musk answered in the affirmative.
“Yes, they did,” Musk said. “We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts… and it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”
In a subsequent statement on Twitter, Musk added: “Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.”
As for how Model 3 production stands currently, Musk says that the company is now producing more than 2,000 Model 3 units per week. Looking ahead, Musk is confident that production will increase substantially in the weeks and months ahead.
“We’ll probably have, I don’t know, a three or four-fold increase in Model 3 output in the second quarter,” Musk added.
Musk certainly has a history of making promises he can’t keep, so it will be interesting to keep an eye on how this particular prediction pans out.