The Wall Street Journal is out with a new report (Paywall) today piling up on the increasingly popular narrative that since Tesla has been late in previous product launches, they will likely be late for the upcoming Tesla Model 3.
We went into the details as to why it’s not the best way to look at the Model 3 program in our last piece: ‘Car and Driver predicts Tesla Model 3 will be 2 years late, here’s why they are wrong‘, but the WSJ report is still worth addressing, especially for a particularly misleading statement.
The Journal published the following:
“In an interview with the Journal last month, the CEO talked down his own target. “Do I think production of the Model 3 will start on July 1 of next year?” Mr. Musk asked. “No.”
The publication follows with an explanation about how the statement contrasts with Musk saying that he doesn’t set goals that he doesn’t think are achievable and how the SEC can have an issue with publicizing goals without “believing in the validity of the projections.”
But what the WSJ doesn’t put properly in context is why Musk thinks production of the Model 3 will not start on July 1st, 2017 and why it doesn’t necessarily translate into late deliveries, especially considering the vague target of “late 2017” the company has projected for deliveries.
It’s something Musk made clear on a few different occasions since he made the date public last May, but none better than on the second quarter earnings conference call earlier this month:
I don’t expect us to be at full production on July 1, but I have to drive all suppliers and internal efforts to that date – knowing that some will fall short. And those that fall short, the suppliers that fall short will be cut out of the picture, and if there are teams internally that fail to execute effectively, we will reorganize those teams.
But if several thousand parts are not driven to a particular date, there is no chance of making any point even past that date. Now in an ideal world, this [July 1 date] would be a confidential internal target. Given the amount of attention that Tesla receives and the fact there’s several thousand companies involved, it is obviously impossible to keep that confidential.
You can’t. So then in order to have a consistent message, internally knowing that message will also leak externally that’s where the July 1 date comes from. There isn’t any other way to do it. If anybody’s got better suggestions, I’d like to hear what they are. So I expect production to occur at some point after July 1, but I don’t know what today would cause us to slip past that date. And if I did, I would take action to address it.
In order words, Tesla aims for Model 3 production to start on July 1 and for deliveries in “late 2017”, but Musk doesn’t expect production to actually start on July 1. In a perfect world, the production would start on July 1, but considering there are always problems, it is safe to assume it would start later and until those upcoming problems are known, Tesla can’t give a better estimate than “late 2017” for deliveries.