Hybrids & Electrics

Happening Again: Tesla Just Can’t Launch A New Model

When we last visited Tesla having trouble launching a new model it was the problems with Model 3. And before that it was the Model X. And before that, well, you get the picture. It’s happening again; Tesla just can’t launch a new model without major drama. The Model Y is the latest to be having familiar Tesla birthing issues. Here’s what’s going on.

Naturally, this all started with the COVID-19 pandemic. Actually, it started just before the pandemic hit because that’s when Tesla launched the Model Y. With the mandatory shutdown of assembly plants worldwide the Model Y production didn’t get any traction. Once the factory was back up and running the anticipation was for a smooth ramp-up to normal production. 

Unfortunately, we are talking about Tesla here so that didn’t happen. Now the master of the Tesla domain Elon Musk has announced he will be walking the assembly line every week to troubleshoot what he can do to fix the production problems.

The new Tesla Model Y Just can’t seem to launch

Tesla CEO Elon Musk walks beside the new Tesla Model Y
The Tesla Model Y | Getty

“We are doing reasonably well with S, X, and 3, but there are production and supply chain ramp challenges with Model Y, as is always the case for new products,” Musk wrote in an internal email as reported by Bloomberg News. Being a celebrity, billionaire, and head of the company, it seems like walking the line wouldn’t be especially productive.

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Is this just Musk venting? Is he serious? Or is he saying this for the publicity? Afterall, he does seem to know how to generate publicity. Here’s some more of what was in the memo.

“It is extremely important for us to ramp up Model Y production and minimize rectification needs. I want you to know that it really makes a difference to Tesla right now.”

“Model Y is the top priority for both production and manufacturing engineering”

A Tesla worker assembles a car
A worker in a Tesla car factory | Getty

“Rectification” is when a car that has been built needs remedial work to be fixed. There’s more: “ Model Y, especially the General Assembly, is the top priority for both production and manufacturing engineering. GA4 is also a top priority for facility improvements. For those working in GA4, thank you for bearing with tough conditions. Will get better fast. I will be walking the line personally every week.”

GA4 is the tent that was set up outside of the factory to help Tesla complete 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week. It’s not the best of working conditions that Musk alludes to in the above comments. It did, however, help Tesla reach that 5,000-per-week goal for the Model 3.

Two employees have tested positive for COVID-19

Red 2021 Tesla Model Y rear view, while it drives on a curvy road
2021 Tesla Model Y rear | Tesla

But there is another possible underlying problem plaguing the line. Two employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the factory resumed assembly according to the Washington Post. Those exposed are now back to work after a 14-day quarantine. 

Supply chain issues are another hiccup in Model Y production. As with other manufacturers, not all outside suppliers have been able to ramp up their production to meet their customer demands. This has caused shutdowns and delays even for Ford F-150 production. 

Obviously, finished vehicles are needing fixes. This is sometimes a normal situation going back as far as mass production has been happening. It just seems that Tesla, the media, and customers have such high expectations for each new model that delays from factory issues get the headlines.