Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule. Expecting to complete SN1 on Friday," tweeted Musk, last week.
Guess what? It happened.
Just sixteen months after the product announcement of the Model 3, Tesla reaches the start of production (SOP). In the automotive engineering world, this is a significant achievement. If you look at the production scale up of the plant, not just the Model 3, it can only be modeled by an exponential line.
August 2012: 20 cars / week
December 2012: 400 cars / week
May 2014: 700 cars / week
With this manufacturing scale-up line, should we expect anything less? Of course not.
July 28 launch party: 30 cars (~1 /day)
August: 100 cars (~3 /day)
September: 1,500 cars (50 / day)
December: 20,000 (645 /day)*
These numbers were reported by Musk on Twitter, and it is important to understand that the 20k for December is a production rate, not the quantity to be produced in December. In terms of total production numbers for this year (Model S and X), Tesla reached 47,100 vehicles as of July 7, 2017, an average of 7,850 cars per month. Fast forward to December, assuming production stays constant for Model S and Model X, they will be just shy of 28,000 vehicles per month.
Compare that to the Detroit 3, and Tesla looks marginal at best, a mere 3.3% of GM's total vehicle deliveries in the first half of 2017 (this does not take into account production capacity, but you get the idea). Now compare Tesla to an industry stalwart such as BMW, and the production numbers become more impressive. BMW Manufacturing in South Carolina has just about the same footprint in size as Tesla in California (~5m square feet). The 101-year-old company can produce 1,400 vehicles per day in one of their top production plants, where the X3, X4, X5 and X6 are produced, bringing Tesla within 65% of their total production.
The hustle here: A company founded in 2003 with no prior manufacturing experience can reach a production capacity on par with a top manufacturer with over 100 years of experience. Although the comparison is not completely fair, an entire company's production output versus a single plant in a major ecosystem such as BMW, the point remains. Manufacturing is a different ballgame than it was a few years ago. Those who are fast will succeed.