Model 3 Assembly Line: Detailed Images Of Tesla's "On The Fly" Manufacturing

The New York Times has an interesting set of images and comments on the Tesla Model 3 tent production line.

"On the Fly" Manufacturing

Scrambling to turn out its first mass-market electric car, the automaker set up multiple assembly lines and is changing production processes on the fly.

The New York Times asks Can Elon Musk and Tesla Reinvent the Way Cars Are Made?

The subtitles in bold below are mine and I reordered a few paragraphs.

Just two years ago, Mr. Musk envisioned 2018 as a breakthrough moment. Having established the brand’s cachet with high-end offerings — the Model S luxury sedan and the Model X sport-utility vehicle — Tesla would begin churning out more affordable Model 3 sedans. With a high-speed, high-tech assembly process, the company’s sales would soar more than fivefold, to half a million vehicles.

It hasn’t turned out that way. Tesla had trouble mass-producing both battery packs and cars. By the end of nearly three months of production after Tesla started assembling the Model 3 last summer, just 260 had rolled off the line, and Mr. Musk said the company faced a prolonged period of “manufacturing hell.” He had hoped to produce 20,000 Model 3s a month by December, but a mere 2,425 were completed in the final three months of 2017.

What the heck is this guy doing with what looks like an iron?

Established car companies master the process with assembly-line workers, and then find ways for machines to take over some of the work. Tesla did the opposite. It designed a highly automated production line populated by more than a thousand robots and other assembly machines.

In a very tangible sense, Tesla views its production line as a laboratory for untested techniques. In recent weeks, company executives concluded they could produce Model 3 underbodies with fewer spot welds than they had been using. The car is still held together by about 5,000 welds, but engineers concluded that some 300 were unnecessary and reprogrammed robots to assemble the steel underbody without them.

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