Elon Musk’s electric car company Tesla has stopped production on their already delayed Model 3 sedan and has replaced their automated production robots with human workers.
Despite the long waiting list of customers and a host of other delays, Tesla has stopped production on the company’s Model 3 sedan according to the Verge. Tesla has claimed that this sudden halt in production is in fact to fix some of the issues that have caused many delays so far, one of which may be the companies decision to automate the final process of Model 3 production using robotic machinery. These machines have reportedly been replaced with human workers:
Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2018
In an interview with CBS, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that automation had caused some of the production delays that the Model 3 has faced over recent months, saying, “Yes, they did….We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts….And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”
Model 3 production is set to be halted for 4 or 5 days at Tesla’s Fremont, California assembly plant. A Tesla spokesperson told The Verge, “Our Model 3 production plan includes periods of planned downtime in both Fremont and Gigafactory 1. These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates. This is not unusual and is in fact common in production ramps like this.”
Tesla has continued to fall short of expected production numbers, reaching a production rate of 2,000 Model 3’s per week in the first quarter, short of the company’s goal of 2,500 per week by the end of the quarter. The company is still optimistic though, setting a target of 5,000 cars per week by the end of the first half of this year. The company claims that halting production to fix bottleneck issues has worked in the past, nearly doubling Model 3 production rates.
Tesla recently recalled 123,000 Model S vehicles, stating that any of the vehicles built before April 2016 were affected by a power steering issue. Tesla previously recalled 90,000 Model S cars in 2015, and recalled 53,000 Model S and Model X cars in 2017 over a parking brake fault. This latest recall marked the largest recall Tesla has ever initiated. Tesla said in an email to customers that the company had “observed excessive corrosion in the power steering bolts,” but that the problem mainly occurred in colder climates where road salt is commonly used. “If the bolts fail, the driver is still able to steer the car, but increased force is required due to loss or reduction of power assist,” Tesla stated. “This primarily makes the car harder to drive at low speeds and for parallel parking, but does not materially affect control at high speed, where only small steering wheel force is needed.”
Tesla is also under investigation for a number of autopilot crashes that have occurred in their cars, in relation to the latest crash Tesla has placed the blame on the deceased driver of their vehicle. In a statement provided to Business Insider, Tesla said:
According to the family, Mr. Huang was well aware that Autopilot was not perfect and, specifically, he told them it was not reliable in that exact location, yet he nonetheless engaged Autopilot at that location. The crash happened on a clear day with several hundred feet of visibility ahead, which means that the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road, despite the car providing multiple warnings to do so.