- Critics have argued that Tesla is too reliant on automation to make its Model 3 mass-market vehicle.
- In an interview with “CBS This Morning,” Elon Musk said he agreed with them.
- Musk suggested to the show’s host Gayle King that he agreed Tesla needed more people working in the factory and that automation had slowed the Model 3 production process.
Elon Musk has long said that using robots to build cars will make Tesla‘s production process more efficient and less expensive in the long run. But automation is also one of the reasons Tesla has struggled to produce its first mass-market vehicle, the Model 3, at the scale it predicted when it unveiled the vehicle last summer.
On Friday, as Musk gave “CBS This Morning” a look inside Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, where the company makes the Model 3, he said he agreed with critics who say the company is too reliant on automation.
Tesla has too many robots making the Model 3
After the show’s host Gayle King mentioned the criticism that there are too many robots involved in the Model 3’s production, Musk said, “Yeah, yeah, I agree.”
And when King suggested that the factory could use more human workers and that automation had slowed the Model 3 production process, Musk again agreed, mentioning a “crazy, complex network of conveyor belts” Tesla had used until it became clear it wasn’t working.
- YouTube/CBS This Morning
Musk didn’t say whether the company planned to address an imbalance between robots and humans or explain how it would do so.
A representative said Tesla didn’t have further comments on the matter beyond Musk’s remarks. The company has about 10,000 workers at its Fremont factory.
Tesla has increased the rate of Model 3 production
Musk has described the Model 3 as one of Tesla’s long-term goals since its early years – it began with high-end, higher-margin vehicles like the Roadster sports car, the Model S sedan, and the Model X SUV so it could prepare for the scale the Model 3 would require.
When Tesla launched the Model 3 in July, Musk said the company would produce 20,000 a month by the end of 2017. In the fourth quarter, it made just 2,425.
Last week, the company said it made 9,766 Model 3 vehicles during the first quarter of this year and expected to produce 5,000 a week by the end of June.
Musk told King he took over the Model 3 production line earlier this year and had been sleeping at the factory to make sure manufacturing stays on target.
As the company has increased its rate of Model 3 production, it has engaged in a public disagreement with the National Transportation Safety Board, which has been investigating a fatal Model X crash involving the company’s Autopilot semi-autonomous-driving system.
Tesla has insisted that the driver’s inattention caused the crash, and the NTSB has expressed frustration that Tesla has revealed details of the crash during the agency’s investigation.
On Thursday, Tesla said it chose to stop being a party to the investigation. The NTSB, meanwhile, said it had removed the company’s party status.
Watch the interview with CBS: