Tesla is getting serious about its next vehicle, the highly anticipated Model X. So serious that the company is shutting down production of the Model S sedan for two weeks at its factory in Fremont, Calif. to install new equipment.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is revealing his grand ambitions for a multi-vehicle lineup with this move. The Model X, with its exotic falcon-wing doors and highly touted mashup of “SUV and minivan,” will be built on the same assembly line as the award-winning Model S, Bloomberg reports.
This will crank up the plant’s output by 25%, if all goes according to plan. Tesla plans to install $100 million in new robots so it can construct both cars at the same time — no easy task for a startup automaker that has so far only managed to build one vehicle at a facility that was formerly shared by Toyota and General Motors.
But there’s no question that Tesla needs to allow Model S production to take a brief hit in July in order to lay the critical groundwork for the Model X, the vehicle whose overriding mission is to provide consumers with a cheaper, family-oriented electric car. Tesla wants to begin delivering the Model X by spring 2015.
The decision to retool the Fremont plant may not sit well with Model S customers, who are already being asked to wait until late October to take delivery of their cars. But from Musk’s perspective, the assembly line needs to be upgraded now to increase Model S production to meet both domestic and, increasingly, Chinese demand.