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Tesla Goes to Extremes to Meet Production Goal

Company using fewer welds, replacing more robots with humans
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2018 11:25 AM CDT
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.   (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

(Newser) – "I think we just became a real car company." So reads a celebratory email from Tesla CEO Elon Musk to employees after the company met a long-elusive production target of making 5,000 Model 3 sedans in a week, reports CNBC. In a regulatory filing, Tesla says it churned out 5,031 of the sedans—marketed as the company's entry to mass sales—in the last week of the second quarter, reports CNN. The milestone came after a series of well-publicized problems and Musk's own admission of a "production hell." Monday's news pleased investors, with the stock up 5%. In a lengthy story, meanwhile, the New York Times provides a look at the extremes Musk has gone to in order to ramp up production, including installing a third assembly line under a tent at its plant in Fremont, Calif.

One nugget of the story getting attention is that Tesla's engineers did away with 300 of about 5,000 welds in the Model 3 underbody after concluding they were unnecessary. That involved reprogramming the robots assembling the underbodies to skip them. Musk also has hired hundreds of workers to replace robots who turned out to be inefficient at certain tasks, such as guiding bolts through holes as part of the rear brakes. "We believe in rapid evolution," Musk tells the Times in an interview—it took place at 3am Thursday, the only time the company said he'd be available. "It’s like, find a way or make a way. If conventional thinking makes your mission impossible, then unconventional thinking is necessary." (Read more Tesla stories.)

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