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Elon Musk Admits Excessive Automation Was A Mistake For Tesla

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Tesla Motors Factory - Building Model S

Elon Musk, who once pitched a vision for a completely automated automobile factory and previously blamed suppliers and third-party contractors for Tesla’s manufacturing woes, has admitted that his obsession with automation hasn’t been good for the company.

Inspired by beverage bottling, the Tesla CEO espoused machines so fast that a strobe light would be required to see them with the human eye. However, now that Tesla has been regularly criticized for falling behind its extremely ambitious Model 3 production scaling timeline, he seems to have a new found appreciation for the human touch.

Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

In an interview with CBS, musk stated:

“We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts … And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”

The company is confident that a mix of manual and robotic processes will allow it to catch up with the Model 3 backlog, but that’s not to say it will scale back on automation. In fact, it will likely further embrace automation as it ramps up Model 3 output, build the Model Y and construct additional factories globally.

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Buick

GM Kills Chevy Volt, Impala, Cadillac CT6 In North America

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2019 Chevrolet Volt EV

The American automaker is cutting back on its sedan lineup with the closure five factories in North America.

General Motors has announced that it will discontinue production of several of cars as it shifts its focus to trucks and crossovers.

The company plans to idle its Oshawa Assembly in Ontario, Canada, Lordstown Plant in Ohio and the Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Michigan by the end of 2019. The slow-selling Chevy Volt, Impala, and Cruze, as well as the Buick LaCrosse and the Cadillac CT6 and XTS will all be casualties of the plant closures.

Production of the Chevy Cruze and Volt are expected to cease in by March 2019, while the Impala will live on until the end of 2019. Buick LaCrosse will say adieu in March 2019, followed by the Cadillac CT6 in June 2019 and the Cadillac XTS in Q4 2019.

The decision coincides with an industry-wide preparation for lower sales and continued shift away from sedans as buyers increasingly gravitate towards high-riding models. Earlier in 2018, Ford announced that it would stop making cars except for the Mustang in order to focus exclusively on trucks utility vehicles.

GM intends to prioritize future vehicle investments in next-generation battery-electric architectures and consolidate 75 percent of its global sales volume onto just five vehicle architectures by 2030.

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Plants / Manufacturing

Porsche Taycan Is Transported By Autonomous Robots During Assembly

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Porsche Taycan Production Assembly

Porsche is the first automaker to employ unmanned transportation systems in a continuous vehicle assembly line.

When it goes into production, the Porsche Taycan will benefit from one of the most modern manufacturing processes in the industry.

The company describes the electric car’s production and assembly facilities as a “factory within a factory,” one that uses autonomous robot platforms to move the cars through the building and allows for more work cycles than conventional setups.

“By applying flexi-line production, Porsche will become the first vehicle manufacturer to use driverless transport systems in a continuous series production process,” says Porsche production head Albrecht Reimold

The German automaker will add 1,200 new jobs to its main plant in Zuffenhausen to build the Taycan and other sports cars as part of a six billion euro drive to electrify most of its lineup, as well as use digital training tools to ensure that all employees are prepared to work on electric cars.

In addition to upgrading its Zuffenhausen factory, Porsche has been preparing a network of charging stations around the world to help address the issue of range anxiety, having partnered with Ionity and Electrify America for DC fast charging in Europe and the United States, respectively.

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Luxury

Tesla Builds 100,000th Model 3, Proves Naysayers Wrong

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Red Tesla Model 3 Performance Driving

Making 100,000 electric vehicles per year and finding customers for them is still a dream for every other automaker.

Tesla has achieved an major milestone of building its just over a year after the mainstream electric vehicle went on sale.

This feat is made more impressive considering it took quite a few years for the combined sales of the Model S and Model X to reach 100,000 units. Not only is the Model 3 the fastest selling Tesla ever, but it’s also the fastest-selling electric vehicle, bar none.

By hitting this milestone, Tesla appears to have resolved the production constraints that resulted in just 30/day Model 3s rolling off the assembly line in late 2017, which fueled criticisms about the company’s inability to hit stated targets and long-term viability.

Production has now reached over 1,000 vehicles per day (about 5,000 per week) consistently, over 70 percent of which is attributed to the Model 3.

This is definitely great news for a company transitioning from a relatively niche automaker to a mass-market auto manufacturer, there is still a lot of ground to cover. Of the 455,000 or so people who pre-ordered a Model 3 when deliveries began still haven’t received their car and won’t likely do so until sometime in 2019, when Tesla is able to finally manufacture the Model 3 in large enough quantities to make the more affordable, $35,000 entry-level version without taking a loss.

A good problem to have, if you ask us, and at the rate the company is going, we have little doubt that it will be able to get owners their cars. Making 100,000 electric vehicles per year and finding customers for them is still a dream for virtually every other automaker.

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