As Tesla is currently temporarily shutting down production in Fremont to update manufacturing equipment for Model 3 production, we could be getting our first picture of an actual Model 3 chassis and a peek inside the ‘alien dreadnought’ that is supposed to be the vehicle’s pilot production line.
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been referring to the Model 3 production line as an ‘alien dreadnought’. He said that his goal is for the factory to look more “alien” than a factory.
He emphasized that the first version of the Model 3 production line will only be a “version 0.5” of the “alien dreadnought”, but the line will get updated with more automation and he envisions a “version 3” in a few more years:
“By version 3, it won’t look like anything else. You can’t have people in the production line itself, otherwise you drop to people speed. So there will be no people in production process itself. People will maintain the machines, upgrade them, and deal with anomalies.”
The CEO has been focused on the speed of production over the past year. He says that Model S and X production move at about five centimeters per second on the line, but he sees an opportunity for a 20-fold increase in production speed for the Model 3 in Fremont – or “at least one meter per second.”
We are probably a while from that happening, but we are much closer to the “version 0.5” of the “alien dreadnought” as Model 3 production is getting closer.
A Tesla employee recently posted pictures of what could very well be the pilot production for the Model 3.
The pictures were taken from the public Instagram of an employee claiming to be working on the Model 3 pilot production line. They were posted to Tesla’s subreddit last week, but they were quickly taken down by the holder of the Instagram account – though not before Electrek managed to get copies. It’s frowned upon at Tesla to post pictures from inside the factory.
At the Fremont factory, employees at different workstations give nicknames to their teams and this one is apparently named ‘Area 51’, which could be a reference to the “alien dreadnought”.
Though it’s the other picture that is more interesting. It looks like it could be a Model 3 chassis, which would support the claim of the employee to be working on the Model 3 pilot production line.
We can’t see a lot of it, but it looks a lot more like the render of the chassis that Elon Musk showed at the original unveiling of the vehicle last year than a Model S or X chassis.
Here’s a side-by-side with the render from the unveiling:
It looks almost exactly the same, while the part just over the wheel well looks different on the chassis of the Model S:
Things are starting to get exciting for the Model 3. While some reservation holders were disappointed that we haven’t seen a single new prototype since the unveiling in March 2016, it looks like Tesla is aiming for the next one to be much closer to production-ready.
A recent report suggested that Tesla would start pilot production of the Model 3 this week, but it is so far unconfirmed. Tesla’s only confirmation is that they are shutting down Model S/X production for equipment upgrade this week.
We should know more on Wednesday after the conference call for Tesla’s fourth quarter and full year 2016 financial results.