The automaker has had trouble meeting production targets
17 Apr, 2018FORTUNE.COM
Despite Elon Musk’s recent assurance that he’s “feeling pretty optimistic” about the state of Tesla, the electric automaker is temporarily suspending production of its Model 3 vehicle once again.
It’s the second suspension of Model 3 production at Tesla’s Freemont, Calif., assembly plant since late February, this time running for four to five days, Tesla employees told BuzzFeed. Affected workers are required to use vacation days or stay at home without pay, according to the website, though some may be able to do paid work in another part of the factory.
A Tesla spokesperson told Buzzfeed that the temporary suspension is to "improve automation." Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fortune.
The Tesla Model 3 is Tesla’s most affordable car, designed for the mass market. The automaker has had trouble delivering on its production targets, however. Last week, “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King toured Tesla’s Silicon Valley factory with Musk, asking him: “You started saying, ‘We’ll do 5,000 a week.’ Then, okay, that didn’t work out, ‘We’ll do 2,500 a week.’ And now it’s a little over 2,000 a week. Does that trouble you?”
“Yeah. No, that’s true,” Musk responded. “I need to figure out how to be better… and then we can be better at meeting goals.”
That same week, Musk also responded to a tweet citing the CBS interview with a mention of Tesla’s use of “too many robots to make the Model 3.”
“Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake,” Musk wrote on April 13. “To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.”
Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2018
Tesla has also been facing scrutiny over its Autopilot technology, which recently was involved in the death of a California man who had the feature turned on at the time of his crash. In several statements since, Tesla said that its Autopilot system gave both verbal and audible warnings to the driver to put his hands on the wheel. An investigation is ongoing.
Musk told CBS that he is continuing to work on solutions for the Model 3. “I’m definitely under stress, so if I seem like I’m not under stress then I’m gonna be clear, I’m definitely under stress,” he said.