Tesla’s New Car Smell
Jean-Louis Gassée

I have some comments.

  1. Looking at the production for the quarters last year, it is clear that Q3 was an anomaly. Close to double Q2, and about the same as Q4. If I remember correctly, Tesla was running to hit some milestone. One can complain about that decision last year, but I don’t think a well-meaning observer can look at that data and conclude this 4 % change is an accurate stagnation signal.
  2. As for the Leaf, well as you correctly state the Leaf is old. It was made way before Tesla got 500,000 pre-orders for the Model 3. And a well-meaning observer would know that even if Tesla doesn’t sell another car, that is substantial, with the Leaf having cumulatively sold 120k such cars in the US since launch 7 years ago.
  3. 1-minute tack-time is better than 5. And indeed, had it been 1, Tesla’s production the past 15 months would have been 300,000 cars. But what would a well-meaning observer be expecting? I can’t see someone truly expecting world-class tack-time from the first moment nor 600 % growth from 2015.
  4. You say the well-oiled machine and maturity that you expected to see in the first weeks of Model 3 production wasn’t there. Sure. Then you conclude that it isn’t around the corner without more reasoning. I found this odd, that is after-all the meaning of the word maturity. New things start out immature, before it reaches maturity. A well-meaning observer would not think that a three-month old production of a new car, from a new carmaker that is growing 50 % yearly, would be the same as 100-year old manufacturers with steady-state stagnant growth.
  5. Nissan and GM are experienced manufacturers, true. But you seem to take for granted that that’s a good thing for them, and bad thing for Tesla. You may know more about car markets than me, but I’m also not so sure that the Leaf or Volt are even direct competitors of the Model 3.

My conclusion after reading this article is that we don’t know much more than we did before. Tesla produced 264 cars first quarter. Short of 1500. In-line with expectations still, as warned on the launch that the ramp-up would be gradual, and pace uncertain. Naturally, that is to be expected when starting a brand new production line of a car unlike anyone ever-made.

If what this article is implying, that Tesla is doomed to stay on todays track-time without end, and that 4 % is a stagnation signal, and that few more people will buy the Model 3 because they van buy the Volt is true, then I stand corrected. But until further notice my hypothesis is that the writer of this article is not a well-meaning observer, but someone engaging in highly motivated reasoning.

If Tesla achieves building 500,000 cars in 2018 that is truly a miracle of manufacturing. But even if they only do half that, it would still be over 100 % year over year growth, and if nothing else then we at least got another sour article by this author to look forward to.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.