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Car and Driver: Musk: Tesla Model 3 Production Date Will Probably Not Be Met

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In a letter to shareholders yesterday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and CFO Jason Wheeler assured investors and customers that the electric vehicle manufacturer’s reported troubles have been largely exaggerated: deliveries are on the upswing, and 325,000 reservations had been taken for the Model 3 sedan in just one week. And yet, despite announcing a planned start-of-production date of July 1, 2017 for the Model 3 sedan, MarketWatch reports that Musk expressed hesitancy in actually hitting that deadline in a follow-up conference call, telling those on the line: “the July 1 date is not a date that will actually be met.”


Product delays are nothing new for Tesla, of course, as both the Model S and the Model X were plagued by setbacks. The two electric vehicles also have suffered from quality issues since entering production. For the Model 3, the July date seems more like a goal for Tesla and its suppliers to shoot for, with Musk and Wheeler writing that the 2017 production date allows Tesla to hold “both ourselves and our suppliers accountable to be ready for volume production in advance of that timing.”


In addition to the ambitious target for the Model 3 launch, the Tesla executives announced plans to sell 500,000 vehicles per year by 2018–two years earlier than the previously stated goal, and 1 million cars by 2020 (a total volume that would require an additional assembly plant).


Tesla’s sales targets sit largely on the shoulders of the $35,000 Model 3 sedan. With anticipated deliveries of only 80,000–to–90,000 new Teslas in 2016, the brand anticipates its most affordable model will help it grow sales by more than 500 percent in less than three years. Unfortunately, achieving this goal may be easier said than done, particularly with the recently announced departures of Greg Reichow, Tesla’s VP of production, and Josh Ensign, VP of manufacturing.


For Tesla, though, that’s just another bump into its inevitably rocky road. After all, no one said it would be easy to “advance the world’s transition to sustainable transportation.”


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