Tesla has decided to skip the "beta" production testing, as Elon Musk calls it, for the upcoming Model 3. This is to save time and cost of production and so that the company will be able to launch the sedan on their self-imposed deadline.
Last month, Elon Musk informed investors that Tesla is skipping the preliminary step and instead is ordering permanent and more expensive equipment for the Model 3. "He's pushing the envelope to see how much time and cost he can take out of the process," said Ron Harbour, a manufacturing consultant at Oliver Wyman.
Relatively, most automakers undergo the "beta" production phase wherein they build vehicles using relatively cheap prototype tooling. These are designed to be scrapped once the doors that fit have been delivered, the body panels have the right shape, and there will be no more gaps on the dashboard. In a nutshell, this stage allows the car manufacturer to work out issues or bugs on the assembly line just right before ordering the more expensive and final tooling.
Now, Tesla will rely on "advanced analytical techniques" (computer simulations) so that their assembly line is tested. Theoretically, this is faster and a lot cheaper compared with following what most automakers use.
However, risks are involved and could raise potential problems in the future. In fact, if there is a production-critical issue while the tooling is being made and the production line has begun to run, the fixing these issues will cause further delays and make the process even longer.
"It's an experiment, certainly," says Jake Fisher of Consumer Reports. He added that there could be "unsuspected problems they'll have a hard time dealing with."
Tesla is notorious for taking high risks and not adhering to tradition. So, how things will turn out for Tesla Model 3 as the self-imposed deadline draws near is pretty much exciting to watch.