Tesla Model 3 test production could begin this month: report

This post has been updated to add comments from Tesla.

Tesla is shutting down production at its Fremont plant for a week this month as it prepares to start making the Model 3, perhaps test-building it as soon as Feb. 20.

The pause will allow the electric-car maker to add capacity to its paint shop and perform other maintenance, a company spokesman tells SiliconBeat.

Model 3 production is officially scheduled to begin in July, but Reuters, citing anonymous sources, says test-building of the new model will begin near the end of the month.

The Tesla spokesman wouldn’t confirm that, nor would he confirm the timing of the pause in production.

“We do not anticipate this brief pause to have a material impact on our Q1 production or delivery figures, as we have added production days to compensate,” the Tesla spokesman said.

In May, Tesla said there were 373,000 pre-orders for the Model 3, which at about $35,000 before incentives is the company’s cheapest car yet. Those who made reservations plunked down $1,000. Tesla has not provided an update on Model 3 reservation numbers since then.

Last year, Tesla made the most cars it has ever made: 83,922 Model S and X vehicles — up 64 percent from the year before. It delivered 76,230 vehicles, missing its target of 80,000 to 90,000 vehicles. The company cited problems with Autopilot as a reason.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last year that the Palo Alto company is aiming to produce 500,000 cars in 2018. Recently, Tesla increased its credit lines by $500 million, possibly partly to help with production costs.


Photo: Tesla unveils the Model 3 sedan at the company’s design studio in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, March 31, 2016. (Justin Pritchard/AP) 


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