As Tesla, Inc. hit their production target for the Model 3 car, it also lost one of its best engineers just a few days before. And to make matters worse, the production target seemed to have been achieved by pushing workers to extremes.
Doug Field, who was the chief vehicle engineer at Tesla, was on a leave of absence since May this year. And it is only during the company’s SEC filing that word got out that Field had left. “Tesla would like to thank Doug for his hard work over the years and for everything he has done for Tesla,” The Verge quotes the company statement. Field’s last day at work was recorded as June 26, 2018.
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Before joining Tesla, Field was the Vice President of Apple’s Mac Hardware Engineering division. His stint at the company was anything but smooth. When the company missed the production target last quarter, Musk had reportedly pushed Field away to directly oversee the production of Model 3.
A few weeks later, Field took a “leave of absence” that led to his resignation from the company. However, the company also managed to meet its production target of manufacturing 5,000 Model 3s a week shortly after his departure. Tesla has now set a production target of 6,000 cars per week by late August.
Hitting production targets
According to reports, Tesla was only able to achieve the production goal a few hours after the quarter year ended. Nonetheless, the company is happy that it has at least achieved its target, though a tad bit late.
“The last 12 months were some of the most difficult in Tesla’s history, and we are incredibly proud of the whole Tesla team for achieving the 5,000 unit Model 3 production rate. It was not easy, but it was definitely worth it”, Forbes quotes a company statement.
However, market analysts are not too thrilled with the way Tesla achieved the production target. While an analyst at equity firm CFRA research stated that the company’s production rate is operationally unsustainable for the near future, analyst Gordon Bloom of Vertical Group was also pessimistic about the entire matter. He believes that the company is not at all ready for consistent production of 5,000 Model 3s every week.
Tense work environment
Another concern raised by market experts is that Tesla seemed to have achieved production goals only by forcing its employees to work overtime.
“He [Musk] is going to go through an awful lot of people because people are going to start getting hurt left and right… There’s only so fast a person can move”, a worker says in an interview with CNBC.
Mandatory weekend shifts have been imposed on the production plant and employees are expected to work longer in order to meet the company’s production targets. The company has also taken back a policy that required the management to provide one-week prior notice before assigning weekend work to the employees.
With its chief vehicle engineer gone and the production target for the quarter only achieved by burning out employees, the path ahead for Tesla definitely does not look too smooth. And considering that the company has yet to prove whether it can consistently put out 5,000 cars a week under normal conditions, its plan to produce 6,000 cars per week looks like a bit of a stretch.