Tesla spent years planning for the launch of its first “affordable” vehicle, and it finally launched the Model 3 last year. The Model 3 starts at $35,000 and is, by all accounts, a very nice car. Even if you’re willing to overlook the recent spate of issues with Autopilot crashes and batteries that never stop burning, you can’t get a Model 3 right now. The wait list is between 12 and 18 months because of slow production. Tesla is now preparing for its third production shutdown of the year.
The first shutdown for Model 3 production came in February. The company said at the time that it needed to address production bottlenecks that were slowing down completion of vehicles. It’s not usually necessary for automakers to shut down production for several days to make this sort of adjustment, but CEO Elon Musk did note that the early Model 3 production was negatively impacted by too much reliance on automation. That might have had something to do with the shutdown.
In April, the company confirmed it was executing another production shutdown to improve automation in Model 3 construction. This one lasted about a week, but apparently that wasn’t enough. Sources inside the company now say Tesla plans to stop building Model 3 sedans for the third time this year between May 26 and 31. This time, Tesla has opted not to comment on the impending assembly pause.
The Model 3 was designed to be made in larger volumes than the company’s previous luxury vehicles. However, Tesla hasn’t been able to get anywhere close to its goal of churning out 4,500 cars per week (20,000 per month). Musk eventually wants to push that to 6,000 cars per week. As of last month, Tesla was only making 2,000 per week.
It’s unclear if the latest shutdown will delay release of the dual-motor Tesla 3. Unlike its other vehicles, the Model 3 has just one motor powering two of the wheels. The enhanced version will have power to all four wheels for improved maneuverability and performance. However, Musk has explained Tesla will not start building dual-motor units until it reaches production targets on the entry-level Model 3.
If you want to get on the waiting list for either version of the Model 3, you have to drop $1,000 as a down payment. Tesla cannot currently offer exact delivery dates.