Tesla has announced that it will shut down production at its California assembly plant for a week to prepare to start producing Model 3. “This will allow Tesla to begin Model 3 production later this year as planned and enable us to start the ramp towards 500,000 vehicles annually in 2018,” said a Tesla spokesman.
Reuters reports that the automaker plans to begin building preproduction units on February 20, two days before it is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings. “What better way to stoke the fan base and Wall Street than to wheel out pre-production models?” said Reuters’ anonymous source.
Last year, Elon Musk announced a target date of July 2017 to begin production. Given Tesla’s history of missing deadlines for Models S and X, mainstream pundits have been skeptical, but Musk assured us that the company had learned from past mistakes and had designed Model 3 to be easy to manufacture, without the gull wing doors and other complex goodies that led to delays with Model X.
Now it looks likely that Tesla will deliver the game-changing vehicle on time after all, and TSLA stock is soaring.
Meanwhile, some details of the battery options that will be offered for Model 3 are starting to trickle out. Elon Musk confirmed that the vehicle’s wheelbase can’t support a 100 kWh battery pack like the one available for Models S and X. However, Electrek reports that Tesla is testing a Model 3 mule with a 70 kWh battery and dual motors, and estimates that that could theoretically give the car a range of 300 miles or even a bit more.
Of course, this is just an educated guess, as there are several variables – Model 3 is smaller and lighter than the S or X, and Tesla’s new 2170 cells are expected to be more efficient than the current 18650s. And of course, it’s not unlikely that the Wizards of Mountain View will make improvements to the cells and/or the battery pack in the future.
More details are sure to be offered at the Model 3 “Part 3 Reveal” event, which will probably take place around March.