When an automaker introduces a new vehicle to market or comes out with a next-generation version of a popular model, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes preparation which goes on before the vehicle can roll off the production line.
Long after the final design has been agreed upon, the factory where the vehicle will be made needs to undergo a series of upgrades or tweaks to ensure it can produce the new vehicle. Usually requiring a partial or full shut-down of production, these changes can include the installation of new manufacturing equipment, reprogramming of existing machinery, or adding an entirely new auxiliary production line to handle all or part of the new vehicle’s manufacturing.
More importantly, when an automaker shutters its production facility for such upgrades, it generally means the new vehicle is a few months from hitting the road.
Given that fact, we’d guess news that Tesla’s Fremont production facility has closed to allow retooling for the Model X is very welcome news to any prospective Tesla Model X customers and Tesla shareholders.
For as long as we can remember, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] has offered customers and Tesla fans guided tours of the former NUMMI facility where the Tesla Model S is made. But as members of the TeslaMotorsClub forum reported last week,the Californian automaker shut its doors last week for a ‘change in machinery‘ at the facility, allegedly to ready the facility for the Model X.
We note however that this claim has not yet been officially substantiated by Tesla.
As those who have been following the Tesla Model X and Tesla’s Fremont production facility will note, Tesla has spent considerable money in the past six months or so installing an entirely new production line and a new paint facility at the Fremont site.
But while those improvements will help Tesla ensure it can meet the production goals for the Tesla Model X while continuing to produce an average of 2,000 Tesla Model S cars per week, the final prat of pre-production preparation does require a complete plant shutdown.
During that time, things which can’t be done to a live production line — like reprogramming the factory’s many robots to handle both the Model X and Model S — will be undertaken.
After that, the Tesla production facility will resume its Model S production as before while simultaneously producing Tesla Model X production intent vehicles.
These vehicles, essentially the last generation of Model X vehicles to be made before official Model X production starts, will be used by Tesla to ensure that the production line is operating within the correct parameters and the vehicles which are being produced meet all of Tesla’s exacting standards. They will also be used to ensure that Tesla’s staff are familiar with how the new model is produced.
If any faults are detected, Tesla’s production team will make the necessary last-minute tweaks to the production process, repeating it as many times as required to ensure Model X production processes are perfect before the start of official production this fall.
Due to launch at the end of Q3, the Tesla Model X’s final specifications and price are still a closely-guarded secret. Expected to include the same autonomous-drive ‘auto-pilot’ hardware as all Tesla Model S cars made from October 2014 onwards, the Tesla Model X will also feature seating for 7, over-the-air update functionality, all-wheel drive as standard and towing capability.
Additionally, it’s expected the high-end Tesla Model X — most likely with a 90 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack — will come with the same ‘Ludicrous’ acceleration mode as the Tesla Model S P90D. That said, acceleration is likely to be a tad slower, due to the Model X’s less aerodynamic shape and heavier curb weight.
We’ll surely find out more in the coming weeks however, so be sure to come back soon for the latest Model X news as we have it.
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