Tesla Struggling With Major Quality Issues

Current, former employees claim poor quality parts adding to delays.

by on Mar.14, 2018

Tesla's Fremont plant is churning out poor quality parts and vehicles, according current and former employees.

California-based EV maker Tesla’s ongoing struggles with two major problems – executive retention and manufacturing quality – reared their ugly heads again this week.

The company saw two high-level executives, Susan Repo, Tesla’s corporate treasurer and vice president of finance, and Eric Branderiz, chief accounting officer, leave the company within about a week of one another.

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Repo left to become the chief financial officer of another company and Branderiz left for personal reasons, according to reports.

Tesla’s senior team of executives has seen a pretty regular amount of turnover in the past few years, some citing burnout from working with the company’s founder and CEO Elon Musk, who’s known for keeping a pretty manic pace.

Tesla's Model 3 continues to confound the company's manufacturing experts.

(Tesla shut down Model 3 line – again – to make upgrades. Click Here for the story.)

Additionally, a new report reveals that the company continues to struggle producing the Model 3 on its predicted schedule of 5,000 units a month, in part, because current and former employees claim the company manufacturers a “high ratio of flawed parts and vehicles,” according to multiple reports.

The out-of-spec parts require time for rework and repair, causing space problems as well as extending production delays at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California.

A current Tesla engineer estimated that 40% of the parts made or received at its Fremont factory require rework, according to CNBC. The need for reviews of parts coming off the line, and rework, has contributed to Model 3 delays, the engineer said.

The poor performance affects more than just the production schedule, it’s impacting employee morale as well. The automaker recently shut the plant down for a week last month as it attempted to improve the manufacturing process and equipment to get closer to its projected build rate.

(Click Here for more about Model 3 production delays.)

It’s unclear if the issues driving the stoppage were the quality problems or if new equipment has exacerbated the issue. The automaker, by Musk’s own admission, has been struggling with the implementation of tooling and processes to build the new Model 3.

To deal with a backlog of flawed parts and vehicles, Tesla has brought in teams of technicians and engineers to help with rework and repairs on site in Fremont, and some of the parts and vehicles are sent to a remanufacturing facility in Lathrop, California, about 50 miles away, instead of fixing those parts “in-line,” CNBC reported.

Tesla denied some of the claims while acknowledged the plant shutdowns and delays saying there will likely be more.

“Our remanufacturing team does not ‘rework’ cars,” a spokesperson said. The company said the employees might be conflating rework and remanufacturing. It also said every vehicle is subjected to rigorous quality control involving more than 500 inspections and tests.

(To see the first-ever bullet-proof Tesla Model S, Click Here.)

Tesla said that finished vehicles are inspected to ensure they meet certain specifications and those that don’t meet those specs have problems that minor and resolved quickly. Tesla also told CNBC the production levels have improved significantly: “Whereas before it took three shifts with considerable overtime to produce our target annual production of 100,000 Model S and X vehicles, now it can be done with only two shifts and minimal overtime.”

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7 Responses to “Tesla Struggling With Major Quality Issues”

  1. DWH says:

    Big Whuppy Deal. I toured both Ford and General Motors production plant in the mid ninties in Australia and United States and at the end of the production line, both companies had over 20 vehicles having paint issues. And that ment everyday,not just that day! Every domestic manufacturer and foreign manufacturer now and then then have issues that affect production. The OEMs have decades of building and fixing their Quality control systems. Testlas learning curve is like their rockets straight up. Only now the technology is has matured. Merely a hiccup compared to what the OEMS have had to have their dealers fix after the cars were delivered to them.

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      Uh, I am trying to figure out your point “…in the mid-nineties…” is a looooong time ago. And so far, we are seeing nothing that tells us Musk & Co. have learned a thing from the past when it comes to manufacturing. “A hiccup”? Uh, no, a consistent issue that Tesla does not seem to deal with. The Model S was late and a mess. The Model X was even later and a worse mess, so much so it was still the worst car on the Consumer Reports list late last year. We have so far seen nothing to back up Tesla’s claim it is getting manufacturing in order on Model 3, which so far has been the sort of mess that could bring the company down. Sorry, your conflating ancient and modern history with no sign of progress.

      Paul E.

      • veh says:

        Well said, Paul.

      • DWH says:

        Yea figured this site was is a herd of trolls against Evs . I’m sure time much faster in your parents basement. A couple of years ago was trying to defend VW diesel emission lying also. Pathetic.

        • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

          DWH, not sure what you’re getting at. We’ve given extensive coverage to EVs and other alt-fuel vehicles and certainly not all, or anywhere close negative. We also covered the VW scandal in depth. If your idea of “trolls” is just puffing Tesla and not holding them accountable for their problems, well, in that case we’re guilty. As for commenters on the site, well, we don’t edit what they say, whether we agree or not.

          Paul E.

  2. Jack says:

    It would be interesting to examine the engineering and design disciplines Tesla uses. Do they have enough D&R engineers to cover all the components they use? Have they developed adequate specifications and DV/PV plans to ensure quality? Do they have a quality office that drives to root cause and corrective action? Eventually Musk will learn, but in the meantime expect to produce junk.

  3. Proepro says:

    Sorry but am I the only one that thinks it is funny that the treasurer is named Repo? It is like a James Bond villain.

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