Elon Musk said that Tesla’s forthcoming electric crossover vehicle, the Model Y, will be a “manufacturing revolution,” even though the automaker is still struggling to get its mass-market Model 3 out of the door and into customers’ driveways. In an earnings call Wednesday, Musk said that Tesla has yet to spend any capital expenditures on the Model Y, but that it was spending some cash on early product designs.
But the vehicle’s real impact will be in the manufacturing process, where Musk says he wants to avoid the pain he’s currently experiencing with Model 3 production. “I think the Model Y is going to be a manufacturing revolution,” he said, adding that the Model Y will be “incredible from a manufacturing standpoint.”
Previously, Musk said he planned to ditch the 12-volt battery architecture used in Tesla’s other vehicles, which could dramatically reduce the length of electric wiring needed and simplify the production process. Less wiring means more automation in the production process, and Musk has said he plans to introduce more robots into Tesla’s production line. He’s also said that the Model Y will be built on a similar architecture to the recently released Model 3, in an effort to bring the car to market sooner.
But Musk has already decried the number of manufacturing robots used to build the Model 3, and on today’s call spotlighted one such robot — nicknamed “Flufferbot” — that is used to place fiberglass mats on tops of the vehicles’ battery packs. To be sure, Musk said the “vast majority” of Tesla’s vehicle manufacturing is automated, but it sounds like he wants to apply that automation more strategically for the Model Y.
Despite a recent report that Model Y production would begin this year, Musk said it wouldn’t start until “early 2020” at the soonest. One of the biggest problems facing the Model Y is lack of space. Tesla’s Fremon factory is “crazy packed” and “jammed to the gills,” so the Model Y would need to be built elsewhere. Where exactly? Musk couldn’t say.