科技和互联网

特斯拉也会“放卫星”

“放卫星”是我们中国人当时对不负责任吹嘘农业产量的戏称,是中国人在那个特殊年代留下的伤疤之一。现在,好像代表先进生产力和最新前沿科技的特斯拉也会“放卫星”。马斯克的特斯拉又一次错过了一个产品预期,这次是万众期待的Model 3。特斯拉的产品无论如何先进,说到底还是汽车,而汽车工业发展到今天,成品过程非常的成熟,容不得半点闪失,需要严格的工业流程控制,这也是丰田,日产等日本企业保持竞争力的原则之一。

2017年第三季度,Model 3 产量只有200多辆,远低于马斯克承诺的1500辆。也许,马斯克目光深远,计划造火箭,上火星,然而,目前马斯克的主业是汽车制造,需要它为自己的理想背书。在一个习惯传统工业的商人看来,特斯拉需要做的事情还有很多:在特斯拉工厂里,除了被机器人和匆忙的装配线震惊之余,却有堆到天花板高的备用零件。且不说,这样的装配线远没有达到所谓的“机器制造机器”,也比不过比如本田工厂里,所有的事物都按部就班,被非常有序的管理。现在,通用和日产等都在谋划推出Model 3的强力竞争车型,而他们都拥有按汽车制造业标准建立的高效的生产线,那么马斯克会面对怎样的对手呢?

原文链接:https://mondaynote.com/

抄录:

Tesla’s New Car Smell

by Jean-Louis Gassée

Courtesy: TechCrunch
Once again, Tesla has missed a production forecast, this time for the highly expected Model 3. According to the Tesla optimists, it’s business as usual for Elon Musk…but Musk’s skin-of-your-teeth, renegade improvisation is about to meet a serious challenge from “Mary and Carlos”.
Elon Musk exuded optimism about Tesla’s new mass-market, moderately priced Model 3 electric car:

“We are confident we can produce just over 1,500 vehicles in Q3, and achieve a run rate of 5,000 vehicles per week by the end of 2017.”
Musk foretold a rapid rise to “10,000 vehicles per week at some point in 2018”, a rate that would put Tesla within reach of 500,000 Model 3s for the year. With that goal achieved, a yearly volume of 1,000,000 vehicles would look eminently achievable, transforming Tesla from a quirky, small-scale outlier into a big-league automaker.

On October 2nd, the story changed. Far from the promised 1,500 cars, Musk let us know that Tesla had shipped only 220 Model 3s in Q3. In its SEC 8-K form (know as Current Report) Tesla management insisted everything was under control [as always, edits and emphasis mine]:

“It is important to emphasize that there are no fundamental issues with the Model 3 production or supply chain. We understand what needs to be fixed and we are confident of addressing the manufacturing bottleneck issues in the near-term.”
To many, Musk’s latest miss sounded like business as usual. As the Wall Street Journal noted last year:

“In the past five years, though, Tesla has fallen short of more than 20 projections made by Mr. Musk, ranging from car-production output to financial targets, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. The company missed 10 of his stated goals by an average of nearly a year.”
The Tesla optimists were undaunted. In the past year — since the time that the WSJ article was published — Tesla shares have gone up by more than 80%:

 

And so it goes with Tesla’s latest miss. Did the stock price fall after Musk’s October 2nd announcement? Quite the opposite: TSLA was already in the middle of a slide — it had lost 10% in the preceding two weeks. The announcement not only stopped the slide, the stock ticked up about 4%.

Tesla optimists appear to see the latest Model 3 news as the result of Musk’s sunny pronouncements and heroic manufacturing improvisation, a combination that has worked well for him so far.

But the optimists might be wrong this time.

My first serious doubts about Tesla didn’t stem from missed schedules, I’ve been guilty of too many of these, they’re part of tech life. What seriously worried me was a July 2016 visit to Tesla’s manufacturing plant in Fremont, California. In taking delivery of my wife’s Model S, we were treated to a group tour of the site. Everyone marveled at the robot porn, at the activity on the assembly line, at the endless stores of spare parts piled to the ceiling.

Everyone but yours truly.

I couldn’t help check off the sins against the “Toyota Bible”, prescriptions for car manufacturers that are lucidly detailed in The Machine That Changed The World (a great and, in parts, sad read). In particular, one mustn’t stockpile parts on the floor, they must be fed in small quantities at small time intervals. If a part has a problem, only a small quantity needs to be shipped back to the supplier who can inspect, correct, and quickly adjust their own production process.

(Ironically, the Fremont plant is prominently featured in “The Machine…” as the locus of the ultimately failed GM-Toyota cooperation.)

As I watched Tesla’s messy, hiccuping line, with workers dashing in to fix faulty parts in place, my mind travelled back to the Honda plant I had visited years ago in Marysville, Ohio. Clean, calm, everything moved smoothly. I was so shocked by the contrast that I imprudently voiced my concern. That didn’t go over well with my fellow Tesla owners. I was a killjoy, I was calling their choice into question.

I forgot about the episode until recently. In an exchange with a trusted industry observer, I found out that he had had exactly the same experience only weeks ago, but he couldn’t write about it by “virtue” of the NDA he’d signed.

The Wall Street Journal wasn’t so bound. In an October 6th article titled Behind Tesla’s Production Delays: Parts of Model 3 Were Being Made by Hand the WSJ sheds doubts on the maturity of Tesla’s production process:

“Unknown to analysts, investors and the hundreds of thousands of customers who signed up to buy it, as recently as early September major portions of the Model 3 were still being banged out by hand, away from the automated production line, according to people familiar with the matter.”
Here, I have to interject: How many people in the mediasphere and elsewhere had insider information prior to the October 2nd announcement? Could this explain the 10% drop in Tesla’s share price before shareholders were notified of the production shortfall?

The WSJ wasn’t alone.

The Electrek blog discusses replac[ing] Model 3 headlights, battery, seats and more while going through ‘production hell’.

Another industry blog, the felicitously named Daily Kanban, tells us, also after the Tesla official announcement, how Tesla’s “Pilot” Model 3 Body Line Still In Development Near Detroit.

We must now turn to Horace Dediu’s Asymco blog. I’ll extract two related observations from his recent post titled S3X Appeal.

First we have the relative stagnation of Model S and X production, a mere 4% year-to-year growth in the most recent quarter. Second, and more alarming, is the slow cadence of Tesla’s production machine, meaning the long pause between successive starts:

“[…] why, with so much pressure to produce cars to meet presumed unlimited demand, is output so limited?
To see just how limited, consider the rate of output. For the past 15 months and near future, the output is equivalent to 264 cars per day. If the Fremont factory is running three shifts, 11 cars are produced every hour. This is equivalent to a cycle time or takt time of 5.5 minutes.
This would be a tragic cycle time. Most car lines aim for run times between 1 and 2 minutes per station. For example BMW’s Spartanburg plant produces 1400 units per day which yields a cycle time of 1 min.”
Dediu’s cautious words throughout the piece can’t hide his conclusion: Tesla’s production process — the machine that makes the machines — isn’t there yet, and maturity isn’t around the corner.

Moving from fewer than 100K cars a year to 500K and up isn’t “more of the same”, it can’t be achieved through clever, conventional-wisdom-defying improvisation. That sort of growth is a bold jump in scale that requires a smooth, well-oiled and well-understood manufacturing process.

But perhaps Tesla’s greatest challenge isn’t within the company. It’s the “Mary and Carlos” threat. Mary Bara is GM’s CEO; Carlos Ghosn is the emperor of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi-Avtovaz conglomerate that recently jumped to the #1 position in the auto industry. Both industry chieftains now wield credible competitors to Tesla’s Model 3: the Chevy Bolt and the newer Nissan Leaf. The Bolt is in production, I see it in parking lots around Palo Alto, and the newer Nissan Leaf, promised for early 2018, succeeds the unsung, world’s best-selling electric car, the “older” Leaf introduced in 2010.

The Bolt and the Leaf come from experienced manufacturers. Elon Musk ran the table with with his earlier Model S and X creations, reigning supreme at the high-end of EVs — and, in the US, beating Mercedes at the S game. But now he may be facing competent competition. Bolts and Leafs (Leaves?) might not be as sexy as Model 3s, but they’re more real.

— JLG@mondaynote.com

READ MORE ABOUT: Tesla Tech Cars

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