The Industry

Elon Musk Is Personally Taking Over Production of Tesla’s Much-Delayed Model 3

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has consistently overestimated production numbers for the Model 3.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has consistently overestimated production numbers for the Model 3. Mark Brake/Getty Images

After roughly a year of high-profile delays, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has decided to personally manage production of the Model 3 sedan, the Information reports. He will be taking on the manufacturing oversight duties of Doug Field, Tesla’s senior vice president of engineering, who had been in charge of Model 3 production over the past months.

A Tesla spokesperson told the Information, “Model 3 production is the highest priority at Tesla, so Elon is focusing his time there while Doug focuses on vehicle engineering.”

Tesla has perpetually bungled its production targets for the Model 3, which is supposed to be the electric-car company’s more affordable and widely available counterpart to its more high-end models. Musk initially claimed that Tesla would be selling 500,000 cars per year by 2018, but subsequently curbed these ambitions and said the company would manufacture 100,000 to 200,000 cars in the second half of 2017. He then lowered his expectations again, claiming that the company was on track to make 20,000 per month by December. Tesla only ended up producing 2,425 in the fourth quarter of last year.

These delays eventually prompted Moody’s to downgrade Tesla’s outlook from stable to negative last week, and additionally to lower its corporate family ranking and senior notes ranking. “Tesla’s ratings reflect the significant shortfall in the production rate of the company’s Model 3 electric vehicle,” read a statement explaining the decision.

According to the Information, the final blunder that spurred Musk to take over for Field was Tesla’s failure to raise production levels to 2,500 Model 3’s per week by the end of March. It’s unclear if the company still plans to meet its goal of making 5,000 per week by the end of June. The delays are reportedly due partly to a complex, robot-reliant production process that is difficult to fix when glitches arise.

The Model 3 isn’t Tesla’s only predicament at the moment. The company disclosed on Friday that the Model X involved in a fatal crash in March was on autopilot. Last week, Tesla’s shares saw their biggest two-day drop since 2016, and the company also voluntarily recalled 123,000 Model S cars due to problems with the power-steering components.

Update, April 2, 2018, 11:30 p.m.: Elon Musk responded to—and questioned the need for the existence of—the Information’s article on Twitter: