- Elon Musk on Thursday unveiled Tesla’s newest car, the Model Y.
- The billionaire also discussed his electric car company’s history, including its past struggles.
- Musk said that while coming up with a car concept was easy, mass-producing that vehicle at scale was “one hundred times” more difficult.
Tesla’s struggle to mass-produce its cars in a way that is cost effective and fast fast enough to keep up with demand has been widely reported — and was top of mind for analysts and investors all of last year.
In his unveiling of the company’s newest car, the Model Y, on Thursday night, Musk opened up about some of the difficulties Tesla encountered. While designing and producing a prototype was easy, he said, building that car on a massive scale was much more difficult.
“The difficulty and value of manufacturing is under-appreciated,” he told journalists, Wall Street analysts, and other eager Tesla fans that had packed the company’s design studio in Hawthorne, California.
“It’s relatively easy to make a prototype but extremely difficult to mass manufacture a vehicle reliably at scale. Even for rocket science, it’s probably a factor of 10 harder to design a manufacturing system for a rocket than to design the rocket. For cars it’s maybe 100 times harder to design the manufacturing system than the car itself.”
In 2018, Tesla went through what Musk himself called “production hell” as the company raced to build enough Model 3’s to claw its way out of debt. Over the course of several months, that manufacturing struggle involved a massive tent built outside the company’s factory to house an extra production line, as well as grueling hours worked by Musk and the whole team, he said.
To Tesla’s credit, it eventually posted a profit for both the third and fourth quarter of that year as the company moved into “delivery hell” — a new struggle to get new cars into owners’ driveways.
“The issue is not about coming up with a car design it’s absolutely about the production system,” Musk said. “You want to have a good product to build but that’s basically the easy part. The factory is the hard part.”
More on the new Tesla Model Y:
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