2017 Tesla Model 3, 2017 Los Angeles Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has aspirations of vertically integrating his companies as much as possible, trying to avoid traditional suppliers wherever he can.
While Tesla has been successful in developing things like their electric motors in-house, the company still relies on others for many of the components that go into its cars.
The Model 3 was expected to be the next step in reaching Tesla's vertically integrated future, but it turns out to remain dependent on a large number of parts from outside sources.
CHECK OUT: Parts order for Tesla Model 3 cut by 40 percent starting in December: report (Oct 2017)
According to analysts from Oppenheimer & Co. cited in a Fortune article last October, delays by some of those suppliers were one of the reasons Model 3 has production had not ramped up as quickly as Musk promised.
Some of the problem suppliers appear to have been fired, while others have actually cut output of their Tesla parts so as not to over-deliver.
We decided to examine Bill of Lading records to see exactly which companies Tesla is receiving parts from.
Tesla Model 3 windshield stampEnlarge Photo
One of our first discoveries was that Tesla receives Model 3 windshields from Saint Gobain Mexico.
This was confirmed by a shipment record that shows a “Tesla windshield pre-assembly line” going from Star SRL in Italy to Saint Gobain in Mexico, as well as by the markings on a Tesla Model 3 we were able to examine recently.
The "Aero" wheel covers on the Model 3 are a unique part: They snap onto an 18-inch aluminum wheel, while virtually every other brand puts plastic wheel covers on smaller steel wheels.
The covers are produced by Guangzhou Jinzhong Auto Parts, which also produces wheel covers for other manufacturers such as Ford.
This isn't the only part sourced from a Ford supplier. The accelerator pedal in the Model 3 comes from KSR international, and appears to use the same set of sensors as those found in the current F-150 pickup truck pedal.
Tesla Model 3 - import record for headlight bracketEnlarge Photo
Tesla Model 3 accelerator pedalEnlarge Photo
Tesla Model 3 - import record for wheel coversEnlarge Photo
According to an eBay posting, the Model 3's 18-inch wheels are manufactured in Mexico, but the supplier hasn't been identified at this time.
Moving around the car, we find the LED taillights on the Model 3 are built by Osram Sylvania in New Hampshire, and the LED-driver circuit boards for those lights are supplied by Jabil Circuit in China.
The only clue for the other lights on the car is that the headlight mounting brackets are produced by Lek Sun Manufacturing in Malaysia.
That company also produces similar brackets for BMW and Mercedes.