Tesla CEO Elon Musk has now admitted that the company's over-reliance on automation is actually the reason why the Model 3 is behind schedule. Speaking with CBS' Gayle King, Musk admitted, "We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts... And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”
"Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated,” Musk added. He went on to lay out all of the other mistakes that Tesla made along the way with the Model 3, including the fact that the team became "complacent about some of the things that we thought were our core technology" and that too much technology was crammed into the vehicle all at once instead of being rolled out in stages (like with the Model S).
With that being said, Musk explains that Tesla will eventually be able to overcome its "production hell" and meet the lofty production goals that it originally set. Those goals included the wild prediction that Tesla would be producing 30,000 Model 3s per month by December 2017, just months after production started. However, as we found out earlier this month, Model 3 weekly production has just now stabilized at just over 2,000 vehicles per week (which was below the revised estimate of 2,500 per week that the company targeted for the end of March).
Musk said in a recent tweet that Tesla will product roughly 5,000 Model 3s per week "probably" by July, after which it will introduce the dual-motor, all-wheel drive option into the mix. As for the analysts that say Musk is "full of it", he offers this:
The problem that people have, a lot of the analysts, is they kinda look in the rearview mirror instead of looking at the front windscreen. This has very frequently been why people have underestimated Tesla, because they would look at Tesla’s – what Tesla’s done in the past and use that as proxy for what we’re able to do in the future.
The Model 3 is poised to eventually become the company's best-selling product, which can be attributed to its "affordable" $35,000 base price. However, once you pile on the options (including a long-range battery and Autopilot), that price can quickly escalate towards $60,000. And once the all-wheel drive option becomes available, expect to tack on at least another $5,000 or more to the price tag.