The success of the Model 3’s production plan is highly important not only to Tesla, but to the ~400,000 people who by pre-ordering the vehicle are now planning their next car purchase around the release of the Model 3. If Tesla starts volume production in late 2017 and manages to manufacture 500,000 vehicles (Model 3, S and X) in 2018 as planned, the automaker will work through its backlog fairly quickly and everything should work out fine.
But if god forbid Tesla misses some deadlines, it will create headaches for a lot of people, including the automaker. The next important deadline is pencil down on the design of the Model 3, which should be this week based on Elon Musk’s most recent timeline.
At the Code Conference last month (or exactly 6 weeks ago), Elon said that Tesla will stop working on the design of the Model 3 in about 6 weeks:
“Almost all of the Model 3’s design is done and we are aiming for pencil down basically in about 6 weeks.”
The vehicle’s design was very well-received with the prototypes unveiled back in March, but Elon confirmed that Tesla was still working on “some tweaking” on the front-end of the vehicle as well as “edge and contour refinements”. The goal is the hit a record-breaking (for a volume production car) drag coefficient of 0.21.
Those refinements are what should be completed by now if Tesla managed to hit the pencil down deadline. Tesla representatives didn’t respond to Electrek several requests of an update on the timeline of the design finalization and the general Model 3 schedule yesterday.
Update: A Tesla spokesperson got back to us today confirming that the Model 3 is still “on track”.
Tesla was also working on improving the design of the prototype’s trunk for a bigger opening in the production. This weekend, Elon confirmed that Tesla already fixed the issue – hinting at progress on the design.
The final design and some additional features of the Model 3 are expected to be unveiled in a “second part” to the unveil event, which Musk said will happen “closer to production” – potentially later this year. He also talked about publishing the second part of his “Secret Master Plan for Tesla” later this week, which could potentially include some more information about the Model 3.
At Code, Musk was directly asked if Tesla was planning an event following the design deadline to reveal any final change and after a little hesitation, he said that Tesla is not expecting an event in 6 weeks, but he did say that we shouldn’t expect delays for the Model 3 simply because the S and X were delayed:
“The biggest thing is designing the car for manufacturing. In the case of Model S, it was the first time that we really built a car – a whole car. With the Roadster, Lotus did the chassis and we did the powertrain and final assembly, but the Model S was the first time we made a car.
We were just trying to make a great car, but we had no idea what it meant to design something manufacturable – so Model S is super hard to make and the Model X is built off the Model S’ platform,”
He later compared the process to designing the Model 3:
“[With the Model 3] we are making something that is a lot simpler, but still a car that people will love and where every design decision is factoring in manufacturability and making sure that when we design something that we can manufacture at volume, at an affordable price, and on the schedule we are targeting.”
Here’s the relevant part of the Q&A:
Tesla is currently working on a $1.2 billion expansion of its Fremont factory for the production of the Model 3, which should start in late 2017 for deliveries soon after. The Model 3 will start at $35,000 with a range of over 215 miles for the base version.
Featured images via Tesla