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Tesla, China and Sandy Munro

Last week, in explaining its Q1 performance, Tesla indicated: “Deliveries were approximately 63,000 vehicles, which was 110% more than the same quarter last year, but 31% less than last quarter.
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Last week, in explaining its Q1 performance, Tesla indicated:

“Deliveries were approximately 63,000 vehicles, which was 110% more than the same quarter last year, but 31% less than last quarter. This included approximately 50,900 Model 3 and 12,100 Model S and X.

“Due to a massive increase in deliveries in Europe and China, which at times exceeded 5x that of prior peak delivery levels, and many challenges encountered for the first time, we had only delivered half of the entire quarter’s numbers by March 21, ten days before end of quarter. This caused a large number of vehicle deliveries to shift to the second quarter. At the end of the first quarter, approximately 10,600 vehicles were in transit to customers globally.”


(Image: Tesla)

Clearly, there are logistics problems as regards shipping cars made in northern California to points both east and west. The western problem is to be alleviated—possibly by the end of the year—by the launch of Gigafactory 3, which is being built in Shanghai.

Realize that there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the factory in January. And the plan, it seems, is to have Model 3s rolling off the line before the end of the year.

While this might seem rather, well, extraordinary, it seems that plenty of things that Tesla is doing, at least from a product engineering POV, are also outside the realm of what occurs in the auto industry.

And the man who probably has a better handle on those things than anyone who doesn’t work for Tesla is Sandy Munro of Munro & Associates, who specialize in engineering analysis.

Munro has recently spent some time in China and has taken a look at the “Chinese” Model 3.

And he talks about it on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with Autoline’s John McElroy, Frank Marcus of Motor Trend and me.

The first thing to know is that the vehicles that will be produced in Gigafactory 3 are likely to be exactly like the vehicles built in Fremont, California. Munro explains that while historically auto companies have made changes to vehicles that are supposed to be “exactly the same” when they are built on different continents, this is not likely to be the case with the Shanghai-built Model 3. While there are improvements being made to the vehicle, there is an effort to achieve consistency. Which making modifications would invalidate.

Munro provides some additional detail on how Tesla engineers are doing things differently than other in the auto industry. Among them is an example of the difference in the designs of the laminates that are used in the electric motors of the BMW i3, the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3.

Asked about the likelihood that the Gigafactory 3 will be producing cars by the end of the year, Munro, who says that he’s been visiting China on a regular basis during the past six years, says that he wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised as things get done there surprisingly quickly. Which, if it does happen, would be an understatement.


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