According to Electrek, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, in a covert conference call with a select few investors, commented in detail about his plan to have Tesla's Model 3 driving on the road earlier than we all expected.
We've known that the Model 3 "beta prototypes" were already as being built ahead of their July production date. Though that worried some Tesla watchers, since Models S and X prototypes ended up pretty far from commercial-ready and going from beta to showroom floor seemed like a lot more than a 4 month project. Well now there's no need to stress about those looming four months, as Tesla just referred to the Model 3 as a "release candidate."
What does that mean?
Well, a release candidate is no longer just some prototype incubating in a warehouse, but an actual vehicle to be tested out on the road, making the Model 3 one step closer to market. Musk said on the investor call that they expect to be driving the release candidates in no more than two weeks.
If you're wondering how Musk and his team were able to speed up the process to production, it seems to come down to Tesla's use of "production tooling," a focus on building the tools to make the Model 3 during the prototyping stage.
Usually, and in previous Tesla models, beta production prototypes were hand-built with manufactured parts. By building the tools during this stage, instead of hand-making all the parts, Tesla can get a good portion of the vehicles made on production machines for later prototypes. Musk wants the Model 3 to be designed for mass-production, and mass-production is what Tesla will get.
According to the investor who passed on all this wonderful driverless gossip to Electrek, the quality of the release candidate for the Model 3 will be much better than the quality of the Model S or X. Tesla is currently in the process of "tightening the variance of parts" to better fit and finish off the car, an issue noted for release candidates of models S and X.
Tesla decided to "limit the number of iterations"—the number of times they have to repeat a sequence of tasks to get the results that they want. Usually car prototypes, including the Model S and X, follow this iterative path: Pre-alpha show cars, alpha prototypes, beta prototypes, lions, tigers, bears, and release candidates/pre-production cars. The Model 3 did not. Instead, Tesla focused on making the right tools for manufacturing.
Low-volume production of the car is planned for July, with a 5,000 per week unit increase by the end of the year. More than 400,000 people have already reserved the Model 3 for $1,000, not only in the US, but in India where the semi-autonomous/electric car has a current lead in the driverless market.
Watch Musk unveil the Model 3 here:
It sounds like Tesla's well on their way to making their July goal. They've already started planning how to get their cars out to buyers and plans to send out "instructions" on how to use them. First vehicles will be reserved for Tesla and SpaceX employees. After all the employees get their fill, the company will start going through its reservation holders in California, and then move on to other markets.
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