‘A Lot of Hoped-for Automation Was Counterproductive’, Remembers Elon Musk

Thursday Elon Musk gave a surprisingly candid interview about Tesla’s massive push to increase production of Model 3 sedans to 5,000 a week. An anonymous reader quotes Musk’s remarks to Bloomberg:
I spent almost the entire time in the factory the final week, and yeah, it was essentially three months with a tiny break of like one day that I wasn’t there. I was wearing the same clothes for five days. Yeah, it was really intense. And everybody else was really intense, too… I think we had to prove that we could make 5,000 cars in a week — 5,000 Model 3s and at the same time make 2,000 S and X’s, so essentially show that we could make 7,000 cars. We had to prove ourselves. The number of people who thought we would actually make it is very tiny, like vanishingly small. There was suddenly the credibility of the company, my credibility, you know, the credibility of the whole team. It was like, “Can you actually do this or not?”
There were a lot of issues that we had to address in order to do it. You know, we had to create the new general assembly line in basically less than a month — to create it and get to an excess of a 1,000-cars-a-week rate in like four weeks… A lot of the hoped-for automation was counterproductive. It’s not like we knew it would be bad, because why would we buy a ticket to hell…? A whole bunch of the robots are turned off, and it was reverted to a manual station because the robots kept faulting out. When the robot faults out — like the vision system can’t figure out how to put the object in — then you’ve got to reset the system. You’ve got to manually seat the components. It stops the whole production line while you sort out why the robot faults out.
When the interviewer asks why that happens, Musk replies, “Because we were huge idiots and didn’t know what we were doing. That’s why.”

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