There were some angry comments posted about the recent preview of the Design Studio at the TM store along side some factory-painted betas.
I'm personally a strong advocate of improving the interior (especially console), and feel great disappointment that little has changed. But I also believe a horse never runs faster if you beat it up.
In our world today, TM is the focus of hope for the transition to EVs that outperform gas, and are beautiful enough to love. Because this is our best horse, whenever it stumbles, our voices need to make things better, not worse. Hitting the horse when it struggles is not as productive as constructive suggestions.
So here's my shot:
Gross observation: It's about 90 days to scheduled delivery, and we're seeing repainted hand-built beta cars. That suggests they'll need more time.
Now personally, even though I want to get mine yesterday, I'm also a realist. I run a hi tech manufacturer, and routinely see how amazingly hard it is to birth a new product, particularly if you have very high standards. Apple just shipped a revision to their iPad, after they made 50 million of them. Apple has 60,000 employees and 100 billion in cash, and yet at the end of the presentation, Tim Cook made a point to thank all the people who worked nights and weekends to make it happen. This stuff is hard.
To do something great is not easy. To get all the tools, parts, performance, finishes, and software to the level that you're proud to ship it is very very tough. And cars are about as mind-numbingly complex of a consumer product as they come (jetliners are worse, but consumers don't buy them).
For something this complex, in my view you'd need at least 90 days from when you see the first production tooled sample to first customer shipment. And that's if you're a very aggressive crack team, and lucky enough to dodge any major bugs. There's simply a massive number of details to debug and get right.
To shove it out the door without sufficient debug is pointless. Look at the drubbing Fisker just took for making that mistake.
So here we are after months of silence, and other than fit and finish, it appears that interior design improvements will not be made after all. Wow, look at the swift and brutal commentary on these forums.
Why this happens is simple. The emotional investment and the hopes we all have run so high here, you get hammered if there is a skew between expectations and delivery.
So I have two pieces of advice to reduce grief and get more done:
1. To us customers, when TM struggles, vent with an aim to toward helping them get it right, rather than bashing their shortcomings. Be realistic, these guys are human just like us.
2. To TM, manage expectations intelligently. When you know something is not going to happen, speak up.
It would have been easy to post comments to steer folks interior expectations on the forums toward the practical, but you didn't. That was a needless hit to consumer confidence.
Now as production approaches, be transparent. Lay out the major milestones, and report as you get them done. By cluing customers in to the process, their expectations will stay in step with what's reasonable, and you dodge the violent reaction to discovering a big skew.
There were comments about production-tooled samples in April. That would be a great first step. Hitting end of July is at least plausible if April happens. If it gets delayed, explain what that means for July delivery so folks have the right expectation.
Elon, what you are doing is noble and hard. Put the struggle in the sunlight and folks will stand by you. Trust is everything.