Tesla close to hitting a key Model 3 production goal — but Elon Musk says the the process has been ‘hellish’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk
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Joe Skipper/Reuters

  • Tesla expects to make 5,000 of its Model 3 cars in a week by the end of this month, company CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday.
  • That’s a key production target; the company, which is losing huge amounts of money, has said it won’t generate income until it hits that level.
  • The process of ramping up Model 3 production has been “hellish,” Musk said.

Tesla is getting close to hitting a key production target, company CEO Elon Musk said at the electric car maker’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday.

After making improvements to the manufacturing lines that are building its Model 3 car, Tesla is ramping up production of the new mid-size car, Musk said. The company has already demonstrated the ability to make 500 cars a day, or 3,500 a week, and should able to boost production even further in coming weeks.

“I think it’s quite likely we’ll achieve a 5,000 car week by the end of this month,” Musk said.

That’s a key figure. Tesla, which has been bleeding massive amounts of cash, has previously said that it wouldn’t generate profits until it starts to make 5,000 Model 3s per week on a consistent basis. The company originally expected to hit that production target by the end of last year, but has repeatedly pushed it back.

That timeline is in line – or even a little ahead – of the company’s previous forecasts. In its first-quarter earnings report last month, for example, Tesla indicated that it would hit its 5,000-a-week goal by the beginning of July. It’s not clear if Tesla will be able to sustain that rate once it hits it, although the company expects to eventually greatly increase its production rate.

Musk acknowledged that the process of ramping up Model 3 production hasn’t been easy. Tesla has had to shut down its production lines for the new car at least twice to fix and upgrade them. And the company previously acknowledged it made mistakes initially in trying to automate too much of the manufacturing process of the Model 3.

“This is like … the most excruciating, hellish several months I’ve maybe ever had,” Musk said at the shareholder meeting. He continued: “But I think we’re getting there.”