Tesla hits Model 3 manufacturing milestone, hours after deadline

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Tesla Inc reached a milestone critical to Elon Musk's goal to bring electric cars to the masses - and earn some profit in the process - by finally exceeding a long-sought production target with the Model 3.

In an email, Mr Musk praised staff for reaching the much-delayed goal, helped by setting up production in a tent. Midway through last month, however, Musk revealed on Twitter that the first Model 3 Performance has rolled off from a new assembly line, which was set up in a sprung structure on the grounds of the Fremont factory. "Whatever. It worked", he said.

The new milestone - despite being put in rather harsh perspective by Ford CEO Steven Armstrong (see Tweet below) - is important for Tesla, to reassure both shareholders about its mass production capability, and customers, who have been waiting patiently for delivery of their Model 3 since this time a year ago. It says that it expects to knock out 6,000 Model 3s a week by the end of August, and that GA3 alone will, eventually, be able to produce 5,000 Model 3s a week on its own.

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As we have reported, the production of the Model 3 has been far from smooth for Tesla, with Musk himself repeatedly describing it as being in various levels of "hell," as problems with certain factory lines and auto components were nutted out.

"We did it!", Musk wrote in the email to employees. "What an incredible job by an awesome team".

"It is an honor", said Musk in an email to employees, according to Bloomberg. "We either found a way or, by will and inventiveness, created entirely new solutions that were thought impossible". To put some context to how remarkable it would be for Tesla to hit that figure, it was considered news just over three years ago when Tesla made 11,160 cars total in the whole of Q1, and when you add up all electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles sold in the United States by any manufacturer in the whole of March (a record month of sales), you only get 26,373.

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Mr Tusk enthusiastic announcement prompted a tongue-in-cheek response from Steven Armstrong, chairman and chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Ford, the 115 year-old United States motor giant.

The Model 3 was first unveiled in 2016 and at the time Tesla said it planed to produce 5,000 Model 3 cars a week in 2017 and 10,000 a week by 2018.

Musk - who turned 47 last week - has certainly pulled out all the stops to meet this latest Model 3 deadline, including building a new assembly line in a huge tent outside the main factory. Only the long-range variant, which starts at $49,000, is available to the 450,000 people with Model 3 reservations. Including Model S and X production, the company had a "7000 vehicle week", he wrote.

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11,166 Model 3 vehicles and 3,892 Model S and X vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of Q2, and will be delivered in early Q3.