The stoppage of the production and delivery of the vehicles is expected to last for a few weeks. During this time, Tesla employees will be focusing on upgrading the production lines and equipment, as well as preparing to start manufacturing the new Model 3. The majority of the activities in the facility will be dedicated to this new model. Tesla also hopes to use the time to improve the efficiency of the factory and reduce costs associated with ramping up production.
The Model 3 has managed to position itself as one of the best-selling cars in the world. Last year it ranked among the 10 most popular vehicles on the planet; and this is due, among other reasons, to its efficiency, high technology and more recently, to a significant price drop. The most popular car of the Austin, Texas company was presented back in 2016 and since then it has not undergone major changes. Its relaunch is immediate and at Giga Shanghai - China they are already preparing to receive the wave of orders that are expected for the new version of the Tesla Model 3.
The Chinese factory is not only Tesla's most important production center, but it is also one of the most efficient and productive car factories in the world. Within its walls, more than a million Model 3 and Model Y models are manufactured, destined for different territories and continents. Its manufacturing capacity is impressive and its lines are always in constant evolution in order to increase the volume of electric cars produced each day. The intermittent production stops are nothing new, but this time they have a very specific purpose: to adapt the assembly lines for a new model.
At first glance it does not seem that the new Model 3 will change much compared to the previous one. Just a few days ago different camouflaged units were seen in driving tests in real environments; though what seems like a simple facelift can actually mask important news. One of them will be the manufacturing process: the Model Y was the first to stamp its chassis using the so-called Giga Press; now the Model 3 will allegedly follow in its footsteps. This will significantly reduce its manufacturing process and hence Tesla will need to upgrade assembly lines.
As reported by Bloomberg, the assembly line conversion operations will last until the end of this month, which means that its launch is more than imminent. On March 1, Tesla will celebrate its Investor Day, as we reported a while ago. A very important annual meeting that will include a detailed balance of the past year and the objectives for the coming years. The event is especially important for Tesla: their best-selling car will be updated, their first pick-up (Cybertruck) will finally see the light, and there will be a major update to Autopilot. We should have news on all these interesting items on March the 1st.
During these last few weeks, the Shanghai Gigafactory has intermittently interrupted its activity for reasons related to the Chinese New Year celebration. Also, at the end of January there was a significant 9-day break that meant that production numbers basically plummeted. Although it may seem a normal thing in Western culture, these breaks for festive reasons are not common in Asia, and particularly not in China. Tesla has not given additional reasons, which in turn has caused a wave of rumors.
The rumors were confirmed with the production halt and now the Tesla Model 3 is clearly back in the spotlight. We will have to wait until March 1 to know if it is an update that includes new features that will deepen the technological gap of what is already the most popular electric car in the world.
All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.