Tesla skips critical brake tests on Model 3 vehicles to meet production goal
Shares in electric car producer Tesla plummeted seven percent after the company announced it is skipping the standard brake test on its Model 3 sedans in its Fremont factory to meet production deadline.
According to internal documents seen by Business Insider, Tesla CEO Elon Musk appears to have asked company engineers to remove the brake-and-roll test from the tasks Model 3 cars must complete to move through assembly.
Tesla managed to meet the self-imposed deadline to produce 5,000 Model 3 autos after several quarters of failing to do so. The goal was reached after ditching the brake tests which Tesla regards as redundant.
“Every car we build goes through rigorous quality checks and must meet exacting specifications, including brake tests. To be extremely clear, we drive *every* Model 3 on our test track to verify braking, torque, squeal and rattle. There are no exceptions,” Tesla told CNBC.
The message from Tesla didn’t impress Wall Street. Company stock lost over 7 percent on the news. Another reason for Tesla’s stock to decline is its missing production goals despite reaching the 5,000-a-week milestone. Tesla fell short on its second-quarter deliveries by delivering 40,740 vehicles instead of the projected 51,000.
Despite working overtime, during now-mandatory weekend shifts, workers told Reuters they were pulled from other departments, disrupting production of the Model S and X lines.
“They were borrowing people from our line all day to cover their (Model 3) breaks so the line would continue to move,” said a Model S worker on Sunday. He explained that the S line is about 800 cars behind because of the focus on the Model 3.
Experts say disruption of the Model S and X lines could threaten Tesla’s target of building 100,000 of those vehicles in 2018. It built 49,489 of those cars in the first half of this year. Asked about the potential S and X impact, Tesla said it also produced 1,913 of those vehicles during the last week of the quarter along with its Model 3s.
While the electric carmaker claims its cars have no problems with braking, some think otherwise. In May, US magazine Consumer Reports wrote an article claiming that Model 3 sedan brakes slower than a pick-up truck.
“The Tesla’s stopping distance of 152ft from 60mph was far worse than any contemporary car we’ve tested and about 7ft longer than the stopping distance of a Ford F-150 full-sized pickup,” the magazine wrote.
Another publication, Car and Driver, also covered Tesla’s braking. “I’ve been testing cars for 11 years… And in 11 years, no car has stood out with inconsistent braking like this. Some trucks have. . . . It was just weird,” Car and Driver Testing Director K.C. Colwell wrote.
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