Report: Tesla Using Executive Staff, Including Elon Musk, To Carry Out Quality Control Checks On Model X Electric Cars

If you’ve watched Revenge of the Electric Car — Chris Paine’s sequel to the hit documentary Who Killed The Electric Car? — you’ll probably remember the scene in which a stressed Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk glances over a workshop full of Tesla Roadster electric sports cars which have just arrived in the U.S. from Tesla’s Roadster manufacturing partner in Europe. Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] is still in its infancy, few Roadsters have been shipped, and Tesla is low on cash. Musk, keen to ensure Tesla’s customers get the best experience they can and suffer no more delays or a “crisis of confidence”, wanders around the facility, personally inspecting cars to see where things aren’t up to standard.

“I’m available 24/7 to help solve issues,” he tells his staff. “Call me at 3am on a Sunday morning. I don’t care.”

Tesla management is actively involved in QC on the Model X

Tesla management is actively involved in QC on the Model X

Since then, Tesla has grown a lot, transitioning from a tiny niche market car company into the fourth biggest U.S. automaker.  And while Tesla did suffer some major quality control issues with its Model S electric sedan when the car debuted back in 2012 — most automakers do when a new model launches — Tesla’s reputation for quality control is far better today than it was four years ago.

To ensure it stays that way with Tesla’s latest all-electric car, the Tesla Model X SUV, Tesla is doing everything it can to ensure each Model X is perfect before it is delivered to customers.

Elon Musk is one of the executives checking over cars.

Elon Musk is one of the executives checking over cars.

As the most complicated vehicle made by Tesla to date — and probably one of the most complex vehicles ever made — Tesla executives know the pressure is on to get things right first time. Rather than have the quality control duty for Model X fall solely on Tesla’s already-busy Model S quality control staff, Tesla’s management team are taking the responsibility on themselves, inspecting and driving Model X cars as they come off the line to make sure it meets every expectation.

That includes Elon Musk too.

As Electrek reports, Tesla is on the verge of ramping up production of the Model X from the several hundred cars produced last quarter to more than 5,000 cars by the end of this month, and is doing everything it can to make sure that its production processes are perfect before that increase happens. While production figures are not quite up to the 1,000 cars per week that Tesla hopes to achieve some time in the second quarter, it does show Tesla is committed to getting things right first time.

Tesla wants each Model X owner to have the best experience.

Tesla wants each Model X owner to have the best experience.

The revelation came courtesy of an email sent out to Tesla Model X reservation holders at the end of last week in which Tesla apologized for holding back Tesla Model X production volume a little longer than perhaps some had expected. It includes the following paragraph:

Thank you for your patience as we’ve taken a little extra time to ensure your Model X meets the highest standards of quality. For the last couple of months, we held back our production rate to check and recheck every part of Model X from each of the ground-breaking features to road performance. We’ve had members of our management team, including Elon, test drive Model X as it came off the line so that we can confidently say that you’re going to to love your Model X

It’s not clear if Tesla’s management team are driving each and every car, but that’s certainly the impression Tesla is giving in this email, which goes on to discuss individual’s options for their car, as well as a delivery estimate. Interestingly, it also offers those who have ordered the entry-level Tesla Model X 70D the option to upgrade their vehicle to a Tesla Model X 90D or P90D (for an extra fee, obviously). This is because the Tesla Model X 70D has yet to enter production and will not do until mid-way through this year, enabling Tesla to prioritise its early Model X production on customers with higher-value orders.

Those with lower-spec Model X will have to wait a while for their cars.

Those with lower-spec Model X will have to wait a while for their cars.

If you’re in line for a Model X, Tesla has confirmed it is now working on producing Model X P90D and Model X 90D variants in either six- or seven-seat configurations. Reservations holders confirming their order today translates to a two-month wait until their car arrives.

Like the Tesla Model X 70D customers however, those who want the Model X 90D with five-seat option will find themselves waiting a little longer.

Are you pleased to hear Tesla is putting such attention into its quality control? Or do you feel that such tasks really shouldn’t be carried out by senior-level executives?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • vdiv

    Hmm, how do I get Elon to inspect my car? Should probably call him at 3am to find out 😉

  • Dennis Pascual

    As “cool” as it is to have the executive team performing quality checks, it gives me pause as to Tesla’s ability to ramp its production. The executive team needs to be more focused on more strategic direction of the organization and it speaks poorly of their production and Q&A that it requires Elon Musk or one of his fellow execs before a Model X is sold off the factory floor. This was fine when it was the Roadster, but with the third vehicle for Tesla’s production these things should be better.

    • When you’re ramping production, that’s the best time to have extra checks. It makes sure that you’ve in fact achieved the level you’re aiming for before stepping on the next rung.

      Unlike design, QC checks are best done with as many eyes as possible.

      • owlafaye

        Excellent comment Crissa…Elon Musk isn’t missing a chance opportunity to make each model outstanding in every way. He will not fail.

  • Bob Sampson

    Clearly they need to hire more people to do QA, such as me!

  • CDspeed

    Speaking of new models having bugs, I had one of the first Porsche Cayennes, and it was infested. The automatic gearbox would get stuck in 2nd, the brakes squeaked really bad, the audio system would cut out, and I lost small plastic trim pieces about every two or three months. I’m not worried about Tesla……

    • KIMS

      For some reason, everyone seems keen to hold Tesla to a higher standard… old automakers can get away with murder and barely get news coverage, but (rightly or wrongly) Tesla will not be afforded that sort of invisibility (yet).

      • CDspeed

        Yes, it’s sad what the general public does to new companies, we put them under a microscope, and scrutinize their every move. And it seems like if we hear something other then 100% good news suddenly people start predicting bankruptcy.

      • vdiv

        The stakes are much higher with Tesla than with the old automakers.

    • I was rented one of the transition Escape when they added the new ‘Microsoft’ computer system and electronic automatic transmission. Ugh, it was filled with little things like that.

      The one thing that stuck in my mind (aside from the fact that I could use the ‘automatic’ gear-changing better than the automatic, something that’s harder to do in my Mazda) was that if you bumped the wrong control stalk, the Microsoft software would play a one-second error sound… For every error. But only one sound at a time. I was able to get it to cache up thirty error messages in a couple seconds and it just sat there, doing nothing but play that sound on repeat for the next minute.


      And I only had that thing for a week or so.

  • KIMS

    To me that customer e-mail seems more like customer relations than anything.. The quoted paragraph does not imply (to me) that their entire management team is testing every vehicle. It does give me the impression that the management and executive teams have been hands-on with the process and have personally participated in it… but not that they are doing so full time or on every car.. that would be insane.