Elon Musk is at it again with his predictions, including a new one that Urvaksh Karkaria of Automotive News has labeled as “audacious.” Musk stayed away from outright saying the year “2020,” but in a recent interview, he claimed Tesla would be producing the new Model Y SUV beginning “around 24 months from now,” which translates to 2020. This is a bold move coming from the head of Tesla, which just happened to post its highest ever loss in Q1 of 2018.
The announcement has skeptics up in arms over how “unrealistic” the claim is, and they have reason to be questioning. First the goal was 2019, but clearly, Musk indirectly shut that possibility down. On top of the Model Y, Tesla is still planning to also produce the second-generation Roadster the same year, which is a lot of work especially with earnings dropping and sales success down drastically from what it was just a couple of years ago.
MarketWatch writer Tim Mullaney hypothesizes that Tesla could benefit greatly from getting a chief operating officer (COO), but Musk is opposed to that and is perhaps too much into his ego instead.
Though the true possibility of a 2020 SUV is questionable, reports indicate that the SUV may have many similar features and technology as the Model 3. According to Matthew Tong of Paul Tan’s Automotive News, these include features such as the electric drive powertrain and the same range ability. However, an Autoweek article identified all of the production problems Tesla is already facing with its Model 3, and this isn’t expected to magically change when the Model Y goes into production. Early owners of the Model 3 reported (and continue to report) even simple mechanisms not working, such as the electronic key card that opens the door. Russ Mitchell of the L.A. Times points out several other basic issues, perhaps the most embarrassing one being that some owners report “body panels that don’t line up.” Common sense would say that basic flaws and production errors need to be fixed before beginning other flashy new vehicle ventures, including the Model Y. This obviously takes time and could push back the beginning of production.
Another issue stirring up doubt is manufacturing space. Jalopnik contributor Ryan Felton described how Musk said the Freemont, California manufacturing plant is “jammed to the gills” and Tesla will require an entirely new plant to produce the vehicles at. This not only takes time to find and build, but it also costs a significant amount of money that Tesla may not be able to cough up. Musk said the decision would be made sometime in 2018, but many experts aren’t convinced. Steve Hanley of CleanTechnica also discussed Tesla’s plans to roll out semi-trucks and an electric pickup truck, so it remains a mystery where the production plant(s) will be located.
Don’t be swayed by the skeptics, though. Many people thought the whole “electric car” invention was a scam and would never work, but Tesla has rolled out several sleek vehicles as well as a multitude of charging stations across the country. Many people are fascinated with “out with the old, in with the new” and are intrigued when a revolutionary new “toy” comes out, especially if it allegedly helps the environment and helps users save money in the long run. Therefore, despite some clandestine financial woes and debilitating production issues, it seems the underdog is not going away yet.
In April of 2018, Musk himself took to Twitter and announced that “excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake” and “Humans are underrated.” But was it? And are they? Over-promising and under-delivering is nothing new in business, and only time will tell if Tesla can deliver as promised.
Image credit: https://electrek.co/2018/05/07/elon-musk-buys-tesla-tsla-stock-short-squeeze/