Six Tesla Model 3 challenges Elon Musk has to overcome

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Tesla Model 3 Driving on a Public Road

Tesla Model 3 Driving on a Public Road

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Tesla Motors says it will start building its Model 3 sedan sometime between July and December next year, and it's targeting production of 100,000 in that period.

That's beyond a tall order, and many advocates, analysts, and owners are skeptical that the company can do it.

But if you accept the premise that it can, CEO Elon Musk and his 10,000 or more employees have a staggering amount of work in front of them.

DON'T MISS: All our Tesla Model 3 news

The Tesla Model 3, its third-generation vehicle, only debuted in March. Musk has promised two more sets of announcements about the car before production starts.

One of his main tasks, as Automotive News writer David Undercoffler suggested in a smart piece last month, will be to dial down expectations for the car in the interim while raising money.

The Tesla Model 3 won't be the first 200-mile electric car priced at less than $40,000 (that would be the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, widely expected to go on sale at the end of this year or the start of 2017).

Tesla Model 3 spotted at service center

Tesla Model 3 spotted at service center

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But for Tesla to meet its goal of building 100,000 Model 3s next year plus a like number of Model Ses and Model Xes on top of that, several things have to go exactly right.

Here's our list of critical tasks facing the company as it works to get the Model 3 out the door.

(1) Convincing suppliers it's real

To build cars, you need parts, and you need to have them in sufficient volume to meet your projected production rate.

That's where the Nevada gigafactory comes in: it is intended to produce battery cells and packs in sufficient numbers to enable that huge volume of Model 3 production.

But Tesla has hundreds of other suppliers, all of whom must be convinced that a company that built just 50,000 cars last year can build 200,000 next year.

Tesla Model S undergoing assembly

Tesla Model S undergoing assembly

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As CleanTechnica noted in late March, not all of them are buying it.

Musk will no doubt point out that many of the first Model S suppliers took seriously one analyst's projection that it would build only 2,500 Model S cars its first year.

As a result, the company had to work closely with some suppliers to multiply their volume several times, and simply replace others who couldn't produce the necessary numbers.

Still, tooling and funding for tens of thousands of parts a year is different from hundreds of thousands of parts.

Tesla has an entirely new round of, "No, we're really serious" conversations it must conclude very soon to get its supply lines established and tested.

Tesla Model 3 design prototype - reveal event - March 2016

Tesla Model 3 design prototype - reveal event - March 2016

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The 380,000-plus deposits of $1,000 each for Model 3s that Tesla received in late March and early April, however, has probably helped in those discussions.

(2) Making it simple, easy, quick, and cheap to build

If the prolonged, painful, delayed, and glitch-ridden launch of the Tesla Model X crossover utility vehicle has taught Tesla one thing, it should be that making a car easy to build is paramount to building it in volume.

CHECK OUT: Can Tesla learn from its past, and make Model 3 easy to build?

Musk himself has acknowledged that the company overshot on the car, adding features (for which read "falcon doors") that may not have made sense and that needlessly complicated its launch.

He has suggested that the company has learned its lesson, and will apply it to designing the Model 3 for high-volume production.

Let's hope so.


 
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