A reality check

A reality check

I know we are all impatient and frustrated with regards to the Model 3 production ramp. I just wanted to give an example that I came across today that made me feel much better about Tesla's effort.

For reasons that aren't relevant, I was investigating new mid size SUVs. Lo and behold, I found that Volvo is one of the few automotive companies that is making a big push for electrification. In fact, they just released the XC60 PHEV and a few are currently trickling into the US. If I custom order one today, I can have the car in May/June. This is a PHEV that is built on an already existing platform (XC60) that was designed to be modular for this very reason. It has a small (10kwh) battery that can propel the vehicle about 20 miles on electric only before the ICE gets involved.

The Volvo XC60 PHEV concept car was revealed in January 2012. Not a typo. It took 6 years for a 90 year old car company to mass produce a concept car that was built on an existing platform.

Doesn't it seem a little silly to get upset about Tesla going from concept to 1000 cars/week in less than 2 years?

carlk | January 5, 2018

In Jan, 2012 Tesla hasn't released the Model S yet and it is now the best selling EV AND the best selling high end car in the US. No one has heard of Model X, Model 3, Gigafactory, supercharger network, autopilot, dual motor and ludicrous acceleration, Tesla energy not to mention semi and 250 mph supercar at that time. Look what we got in those few short years!

I just hope Tesla could do things a little faster so competitors will not kill it.

benichols | January 5, 2018

Can anyone give an example of an automotive company that took less than 2 years to go from concept to 1000 cars per week?

If there are no other examples (especially when including a totally new battery system - ie drivetrain) why are we expecting Tesla to be faster than they already are?

chris.pribe | January 5, 2018

Tesla is accelerating, the others? They just give good show: Look at past forecasts for fuel cells, e.g.

Don’t worry, be patient (just a little while longer).

stevea137 | January 5, 2018

EM has stated many times that one goal of Tesla is to force the industry to innovate the EV path, and I think the other auto makers are grudgingly starting to pick up their pace.

He also thinks Hydrogen fuel cells are silly; which you gotta admit, they are. Particularly pointed out in that article: "where do we get the hydrogen?" -- "I know, lets steam crack fossil fuels!" *facepalm*

ReD eXiLe ms us | January 5, 2018

In reality, PHEVs are a stopgap, a delaying tactic, a maneuver to insure that gas guzzlers continue to dominate transportation. Volkswagen spent a very long time continually delaying the release of the AUDI R8 e-tron, which eventually became no more than a limited edition preorder only vehicle and a handful of A3 e-tron. It was five years after the Cadillac Converj Concept became the ELR, which was an ATS Coupe with a VOLT drivetrain for a $40,000 premium from General Motors, who have now announced they are canceling the VOLT. Ford got nearly $6,000,000,000 from the Department of Energy and used it to build the C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi PHEVs and the Focus Electric. None of them are in a big hurry at all.

Carl Thompson | January 6, 2018

"... the Model S ... is now ... the best selling high end car in the US."

Only if you don't count the BMW 5 series, the BMW 3 series, Mercedes E Class, Mercedes C Class, Audi A4 and many other cars.

Perhaps you could rephrase that so it's true? ;-)

carlk | January 6, 2018

You gave high end a new meaniing. | January 6, 2018

The Model S is classified as a large, so it is normally compared with the BMW 7, MB S class, and Audi A8.

I suspect most consider the Model 3 (a mid-size) in the same class as the smaller BMW 3 even though it is a compact, maybe more similar with the BMW 5 (a mid-size). The MB E/C are both considered compact size as is the Audi A4, and appear all down-market from the Model 3, let alone the S.

greg | January 6, 2018

"Only if you don't count the BMW 5 series, the BMW 3 series, Mercedes E Class, Mercedes C Class, Audi A4 and many other cars."

Depends on where you define "High end" to be. Some would argue that few BMW models are "high end",.
Don't recall anyone claiming the BMW 3 series is high end, just like they don't claim the Model 3 is either.

There are also others who'd argue that the S is not high end [or at least not as high end as it claims to be].

Whatever the arguments on who is higher end than who, the reality is that BMW, Audi and Mercedes etc are having their collective and individual lunches eaten by car buyers choosing a Tesla - at least in the US.

@Red eXiLe ms us
We have in the likes of VW and Audi and Porsche, [and to some degree Volvo], a concerted action alright, in announcing Compliance cars. But these are not CAFE or CARB rule compliance cars.
Nope its actually way more cynical than that.

These announced, but never arriving "electrics", are solely there as EXPECTATION compliance cars, designed to keep their governments, stockholders and ICE car buying faithful happy and just as importantly - to be seen by them to be "actually doing something" - while in reality they simply run round in circles trying figure out what the frack they're going to be able do to get Tesla out of their hair and "resume business as usual".

But that imagined "as usual" future won't arrive because they are not realising [or are only now just realising] that their comfortable & smoothly paved road to their "ICE forever" future started running out about the time the Model S arrived. And the road ahead is turning into a very bumpy, rutted road, that very few will emerge from.

And lastly for all those worrying about how badly Tesla is doing with Model 3 production and ramp up delays, it seems we forget that one of the the [so far announced] main reasons why Tesla can't make those Model 3's quick enough is not because Fremont stuffed up and can't make them as easily as they supposed they could. But because the GF1 can't make the new battery packs [and or 2170 cells] quick enough.
And Musk said a while back that this situation was mainly due to how their main robotic equipment supplier screwed them over big time and failed to deliver the robots that could work as fast and as accurately as they were required to. So badly in fact, that Tesla had to spend many human years of software engineering resources to reprogram all the robots themselves to make them work/perform properly.

How many of those big name car makers companies would come through such a major supplier caused production disaster like that as quickly as Telsa has done so far? The fact they got as many Model 3s made last year is probably a good testimony to their adaptability in such circumstances more so simply assuming its all due to their sheer hubris which is what how and why its portrayed as a "sky is falling disaster" by many others.

dyefrog | January 6, 2018

I also have to think that diverting a lot of their energy storage resources to Australia and PR may have hurt the 2170 production.

khanhvn | January 6, 2018

@chris.pribe, Good article. It's interesting to hear so many people are trashing Tesla because M3 has a 2-quarter delay in reaching its ambitious 5K/w target, while GM is 14 years late and counting...

"in 1998, Mr Wagoner's predecessor, Jack Smith, told the Detroit auto show that GM had a plan to produce a production-ready fuel-cell vehicle “by 2004 or sooner”"

ReD eXiLe ms us | January 6, 2018

greg is correct.

dyefrog: I think that in Australia (and possibly Puerto Rico as well) Tesla sourced the battery cells through someone other than Panasonic (Samsung or LG, maybe). I'm sure they still had their own staff produce the actual PowerPacks for the projects, though.

khanhvn: I'm sure the guys that always harp on Tesla being 'late' never have a clue as to how often or for how long other manufacturers have been ~*late*~ on anything. Apparently because they are shortsighted both forward and backward in time. The 1986 Pontiac Banshee concept still hasn't shown up in the Real World. Neither has the GM Hy-Wire. Or every Buick concept put on display for the past 25 years.

daverileyak | January 7, 2018

Benichols, "Can anyone give an example of an automotive company that took less than 2 years to go from concept to 1000 cars per week?"

I think the 1964 1/2 Mustang would probably fill the bill. Prototype shown October 1962 - Introduced as production car at dealers April 1964. With 559,451 total 1965 Mustangs delivered, Ford set a record I doubt has been matched in the US. Note: The 1965 Mustang did cover more like 18 months than 12. There is such a thing as the '64 1/2 Mustang, but they were actually built, registered, VIN numbered, etc. as 1965 models.

daverileyak | January 7, 2018

And what a year 1964 was for a car-crazy 17 year old kid !! The Mustang, the GTO, the Catalina convertible.... I must still be car crazy and 17, 'cause I bought a red '64 Catalina convertible just a couple months ago.

TabascoGuy | January 7, 2018

@daverileyak - The difference would be that Ford, an established manufacturer, probably had existing assembly lines that those Mustangs could be built on.

Randy in Austin | January 7, 2018

Also, in the case of the original Mustang, it was essentially a Ford Falcon with a different body. A lot of the parts were common between the two. That is why the development time was so short.

dlake | January 7, 2018

There may be a topic thread about this, but I didn't find it. Do we know if, or suspect that "dirty pool" is being played such that certain Tesla vendors are being influenced by big oil or ICE manufacturers to delay supplying critical components of Model 3?

TabascoGuy | January 7, 2018

It wouldn't surprise me one bit. Money has a strange way of influencing people to do bad things. That is one more reason why Tesla's objective of doing as much work "in house" as possible is beneficial to their mission.

daverileyak | January 7, 2018

HotSauceFella and Randy . . . Of course, you're both correct. I considered mentioning both those caveats in the reply to Ben, but decided to basically stick to answering the question as posed. BTW, Randy, not just the Falcon, but lots and lots of "parts bin" content from the Fairlane as well. Any way you slice it though, an average of over 1,000 cars per day of a new model over 50 years ago is impressive.

There is a red '65 Mustang convertible about 4 miles from where I sit, at a little country place on a back road, and I keep being tempted to stop and make him an offer. I've been resisting, so far, but knowing me there is probably another red 60's convertible in my future.

warren_tran | January 7, 2018

It is a bit unfair and not a true analogy to make excuse for Tesla model 3 production delay. Volvo has always been a traditional automaker and only venture into PHEV/hybrid in recent years. To assume Volvo been working or putting their R/D resource into Xc60 PHEV for the last 6 years is unwarrant and apple to orange comparison to Tesla #1 focus for the last 2 years is model 3.

Volvo goal for the last 90 years is the safest car in the world, not as EV automaker. And no, a single crash test from 1 angle comparison doesn't make Volvo isn't a safe car from now and into the future.

rgrant | January 7, 2018

Tesla has shown the other car companies to be bait and switch merchants. They show off sexy concepts and sell staid reality. Tesla shows off a sexy future and actually delivers it, eventually. I prefer waiting a year for my sexy dreams than never getting them!

warren_tran | January 7, 2018

Actually, you been waiting for more than a year. Even longer for the international reservation holders.

ReD eXiLe ms us | January 8, 2018

Hmmm... So, let's call it nearly three years instead...? Just about the length of time for the Model X to reach its first Customers, around nine months later. And apparently designed 'from the ground up' not from an existing platform. So, Tesla needed about nine months' more development time to create a more powerful, cleaner, fully electric SUV.

Volvo Cars introduces Twin Engine technology in world’s most powerful and cleanest SUV
December 8, 2014

"The first Volvo designed from the ground up for plug-in/electrification compatibility, the XC90 T8 delivers all the performance of a luxury SUV, but with emission levels that even small hybrid cars struggle to match.

"When designing the XC90 T8, Volvo Cars chose not to compromise on performance, driving pleasure, efficiency or even luggage space. By building on the new modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform and successful Drive-E petrol powertrain, the company has created a uniquely roomy 7-seater SUV that delivers 400hp/640Nm combined with ultra-low emissions (59g/km) and high fuel efficiency (2.5 l/100km). The fuel economy according to the U.S. driving cycle is 59 MPGe."

Volvo Drive-E petrol powertrain
"What if you could combine power, efficiency, and a superior experience on the road with sustainable driving?

"Our new generation of Drive-E powertrains has done just that, allowing you to enjoy an exhilarating cruise down the road, but with far less fuel and emissions.

"And it doesn’t stop there. Drive-E is an all-encompassing commitment to sustainability. Everything from our cars’ materials to our factories are created with an environmentally-friendly approach."

Nexxus | January 8, 2018

And those early Model S adopters waited from 2009 till June 2012 almost three years until they got their cars. Put money down, no test drives, no models available and they waited. And we're closing in on just two years come April 1st. Sorry, but I don't have a problem with that as long as they make them right and reliable. The wait is secondary to having the car. No problem.

ReD eXiLe ms us | January 8, 2018

If you need to see more crash test footage for the Volvo XC90 T8 it isn't hard to find. Volvo provides it by way of YouTube...

[ Volvo XC90 Luxury SUV | Crash Tests -- cw64wdDQsFQ ]
[ XC90 T8 Crash Tests -- 5X5eqA5z8Hg ]

You may compare NHTSA Results yourself...

Volvo XC90 T8

Tesla Model X 90D

Don't overlook the links to PDF files that cover 'Technical Reports' on the cars, so as to have a fair comparison.

ed.fletcher.59 | January 8, 2018

@Carl Thompson. I think by "high-end" he means "luxury" cars. The BMW 5 series, the BMW 3 series, Mercedes E Class, Mercedes C Class, and Audi A4 don't qualify as luxury cars. Correct me if you know better, but I believe "luxury" cars are $70,000 or higher. And the Model S is #1 in that category.

andy.connor.e | January 8, 2018


"luxury" is nothing more than a social standard arbitrarily decided by the populous. One could consider just having a car in general to be a luxury. Dont get caught up in the definition of things. Most of it is opinionated.

staze | January 8, 2018

The EPA defines the large sedan segment as vehicles with 120 ft³ or more of combined passenger and cargo interior volume. Which is exactly Tesla’s interior volume.

While we can debate luxury vs high end, when tallying sales counts I think the EPA definition is the standard by which the comparison is made and Tesla wins the title with the Model S.


I haven't found a reliable source to define "luxury". From the looks of it, we have plenty of opinions in this bunch.

Carl Thompson | January 8, 2018

"The BMW 5 series, the BMW 3 series, Mercedes E Class, Mercedes C Class, and Audi A4 don't qualify as luxury cars."

I think most people would not agree with that. Further Elon Musk himself says that the Model S is comparable to the BMW 5 series (not the 7 series):


ReD eXiLe ms us | January 11, 2018

I believe that Elon's intent was to take on the 5-Series, E-Class, and A6/A7, but that the Model S edged over into the Large car classification where the 7-Series, A8 L, and S-Class reside, officially. It was a fortuitous error. Rather than being about 'luxury' it allows Model S to compete as the flagship of the brand against the established flagships of others. FYI, the A8 was a Midsize car and was discontinued in the U.S. in favor of the extended wheelbase A8 L for the 2015 Model Year. Similarly, the Lexus LS was also Midsize, despite its heft and length, so an extended wheelbase version was introduced, and that one has a Fullsize classification. Keep in mind the beautiful, heavy, lengthy CLS-Class is... a Compact car, due to its relatively diminutive combined passenger and cargo volume. Not that it matters, since the Model S destroys U.S. sales head-to-head against LS, A8 L, CLS-Class, A7, A6, S-Class, Quattroporte, Panamera, et al. And the Model 3 will have the pleasure of defeating competitor's Compact and Midsize offerings in units sold in the U.S. very soon now, by a wide, wide margin.

Carl Thompson | January 11, 2018

@ReD eXiLe ms us

But the interesting thing was that that tweet from EM was from less than a year ago not from back when the S was launched. It's possible he didn't realize people were comparing it with the 7-series (it wasn't Tesla doing it just fans on blogs).

SO | January 11, 2018

BMW 7 series starts at 83k

Tesla Model S starts at 74k.

BMW 5 series starts at 52k.

(According to google MSRP.)

So I suppose it’s somewhat fair to compare to a 5 series but not quite a 7 series. The Model S falls in between.