Tesla builds 100th Model S, but production rate still far from goals

Tesla has built its 100th Model S sedan.

That may not seem like a lot, but it’s an indication that the electric car company is — as it said in a blog post Tuesday announcing the milestone — starting to ramp up production.

Palo Alto-based Tesla’s last production update came about a month ago, when it announced its second quarter results. At that point, the company had made 40 cars total and had delivered none to customers other than the first 10 it delivered in a highly publicized “launch” event on June 22.

That means the company has increased the total number of Model S vehicles it has made to date by 150 percent. Tesla made about 60 cars in less than a month, or about two a day.

When I met with Tesla officials in mid-July before test driving the Model S, they said the company was making between one and two day. So two a day is a modest increase from even then.

Investors and industry watchers have been keenly focused on Tesla’s production numbers. The money-losing company has set some ambitious production goals that it has to reach in order to start operating in the black. The company’s plan is to be profitable next year when it expects to be in full production of the new sedan.

But it’s a long way from the company’s current production rate to its goals. Tesla has said it plans to make 500 Model S vehicles by the end of the third quarter. Over the next 40 days or so, it needs to make 400 vehicles to reach that target. That works out to be about 10 a day.

Its year-end goals are even more ambitious. Tesla expects to make 4,500 Model S’s in the fourth quarter. To hit that, it will have to make 50 a day on average in that period.

Tesla officials have said that production of the Model S is on target to meet those goals and that the company expects its production numbers to ramp up exponentially in coming months in a sharp “S” curve. But some analysts are  dubious that the company will be able to hit its targets.

Although the company has a state-of-the-art automated factory in Fremont, it has no track record of mass production. Tesla produced fewer than 2,500 Roadsters, the only other car it made before the Model S.

And the 100 car figure is overstating things a bit, at least for those who have ordered the car and hoping to see one soon. Of the first 100 cars the company has made, only 74 are slated to be delivered to customers. The rest are for the company’s use; they’ll be used for testing, test drives, training and showrooms.


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  • Trevor Pugh

    I have started several companies that have had no record of performing in any area. However, all the people we hired had the experience and record of performing in those areas. Believe it or not the company is not a person, it’s the people that make a company; despite recent lawyering to the contrary.

  • I was under the impression that money must come in to have product go out.
    Looks like those investments are not paying off. Where’s the product and how much did this cost the tax payer?

  • Jeff

    Is it even possible for them to ramp up from 2 to 50 units per day? That’s huge.

  • Susan Anthony

    Why does a billionaire like Elon need a $20M grant/bailout from the non-billionaires of California? Robbing the poor and giving to the rich? I see how it works. You’d think that a billionaire that actually believes in something’s success could spare a few millions. naw.