Home / News / Technology / Elon Musk On The “Insane Pain’ of High-Volume Manufacturing, Says Robots Slow Down Production
Technology
3 min read

Elon Musk On The “Insane Pain’ of High-Volume Manufacturing, Says Robots Slow Down Production

Last Updated March 29, 2024 5:16 PM
James Morales
Last Updated March 29, 2024 5:16 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Tesla has struggled to keep scale manufacturing capacity for its new Cybertruck.
  • Elon Musk has said that people don’t appreciate how hard it is to mass-produce vehicles.
  • Tesla’s previous efforts to ramp up production with more automation didn’t deliver the desired results.

After years of anticipation, Tesla delivered its first Cybertrucks in November. But CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly warned of difficulties scaling up production. 

However, ramping up manufacturing capacity is no easy task, even with the help of robots. 

Excessive Automation Slows Down Tesla Production

While Tesla is no stranger to manufacturing robots, in the past, Musk has acknowledged  that “excessive automation” may have contributed to holdups with the Model 3 production line.

“We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts,” he said, but added that it wasn’t working “so we got rid of that whole thing.”

Cybertruck Manufacturing Robots

Although Tesla might have abandoned the complex conveyor belt system initially used for the Model 3, it still uses manufacturing robots on the assembly line.

Like all major auto manufacturers today, Tesla relies heavily on mechanical arms for tasks such as lifting, welding, cutting and trimming.

According to one Tesla fan on X, 66 KUKA robots were shipped to Tesla’s factory in Texas in 2022, just as the company was preparing to start Cybertruck production.

One of the leading suppliers of industrial robots for the automotive industry, KUKA machines are also used by BMW, Ford and other major car makers.

Tesla Struggles to Ramp up Production

Part of the challenge for Tesla is that the company has struggled to keep pace with demand.

Since the first ever Tesla rolled off the production line in 2008, the firm has grown into the world’s largest manufacturer of fully electric vehicles, shipping over 1.8 million  cars last year.

To meet demand, the company now operates 6 six massive production facilities in the US, Germany and China. 

But although Tesla is now able to build nearly 2 million vehicles a year, it is still significantly outgunned by more established manufacturers.

For example, 9.23 million  Toyotas rolled off the production line last year at dozens  of factories it operates around the world.

Commenting on the challenge of scaling production, Musk observed that mass manufacturing is underappreciated by the general public.

“Compared to the insane pain of reaching high-volume, positive-margin production, prototypes are a piece of cake,” he stated.

Was this Article helpful? Yes No