Elon Musk says production deadline for Model 3 'impossible'

During Tesla's Q1 2016 earnings call, CEO Elon Musk set a deadline of July 1, 2017, to begin Model 3 production, then said that would likely be an impossible goal to meet.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
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2018 Tesla Model 3
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2018 Tesla Model 3

Tesla unveiled its prototype Model 3 in April, and CEO Elon Musk set a goal of July 1, 2017, to begin production.

Tesla Motors, screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

After setting a production deadline for the new, affordable Model 3 of July 1, 2017, during the company's earnings call today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted that supply issues would make that date impossible. Likening the production date to a term paper deadline, Musk said it was important to set the date, but the company was highly unlikely to develop the supply chain for Model 3 parts in time.

Tesla showed off the prototype Model 3 during an event on April 1, noting the car's $35,000 base price and range of over 215 miles. After showing the car, Tesla began taking preorders at $1,000 each. In one week, Tesla logged 325,000 preorders.

Musk said that the Model 3 was designed to be much less complicated to manufacture than the Model S and Model X. However, the process of developing the parts necessary from suppliers and integrating them into the line would set actual production back. If any of its suppliers failed to meet expectations, Musk said that Tesla would begin fabricating the parts itself at its Fremont factory.

Estimating initial production at 100,00 to 200,000 for the Model 3 in 2017, Musk said that Tesla would be producing 500,000 cars a year in 2018.

Noting that producing cars in California and shipping them all over the world was inefficient, Musk suggested Tesla might set up factories in Europe and China, but only after maximizing production out of its Fremont plant.