Tesla cranks Model S assembly line up to full speed

Tesla’s director of Model S programs said that the company’s Fremont, California assembly plant is running at its full rate of 400 vehicles per week (20,000 per year).

 

Evan as Tesla has been celebrating one rave review of the Model S after another, a dark cloud has been poised over the parade: the possibility that the company might not be able to ramp up production quickly enough to keep up with orders, a situation that has sunk more than one start-up in the past. That fear receded this week as a spokesman announced that the Model S production line is now running at full capacity.
 
Jerome Guillen, Tesla’s director of Model S programs, told Automotive News that the company’s Fremont, California assembly plant is running at its full rate of 400 vehicles per week (20,000 per year). The waiting time for a Model S is now only four to six months, and the 60 kWh model will go into production this month.
 
The company hasn’t disclosed how many units it built and sold in 2012, but Tesla-watchers estimate that it has about 15,000 reservations in its order book. Some hard figures are expected in an investor call scheduled for February.
 
Guillen was pleased to note how quickly the small and nimble company is able to make changes. Tesla has made at least three software updates to the Model S, involving the transmission, door handles and voice commands, by means of the car’s telematics system, without requiring owners to visit a service center.
 
Changes on the assembly line, including upgrades to the nose cone and the optional jump seats, have also happened promptly. “We are doing things in a couple weeks that, at my previous employer, would have taken two years,” said Guillen, who used to work for Daimler.
 
More news in the Automotive News article: Tesla is working on a production-ready prototype of the Model X crossover, which is scheduled to go on sale in mid-2014. Three or four years down the line, we may see a smaller sedan with a target price of $30,000 to $35,000.
 
“The focus is on cost down,” said CEO Elon Musk. “We’ve got the range. We’ve got the capability and ride and handling. Now it’s a question of how to optimize it.”
 
Musk expects Tesla to turn a quarterly profit some time in 2013.