Business Insider Edition

Elon Musk says humans are underrated and that he regrets using so many robots to build the Tesla Model 3

Mark Matousek , Business Insider US
 Apr 14, 2018, 02:08 PM

Musk showed CBS the Model 3 production line.
  • On Friday morning, CBS This Morning aired an interview with Elon Musk in which he discussed Tesla's difficulties in ramping up Model 3 production since the mass-market sedan was unveiled in July.
  • In the afternoon, Musk said on Twitter that the company used too much automation in its production process.
  • "Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated," he wrote in response to a Wall Street Journal reporter. 


On Friday morning, CBS This Morning aired an interview with Elon Musk in which he discussed Tesla's difficulties in ramping up Model 3 production since the mass-market sedan was unveiled in July.

During the interview, host Gayle King mentioned how the company has been criticised for using too much automation at the Fremont, California, factory where the company makes its vehicles. Musk said, "Yeah, yeah, I agree," in response.

And when King suggested that the factory would benefit from more human workers and that automation had slowed the Model 3 production process, Musk agreed again and mentioned a "crazy, complex network of conveyor belts" Tesla had used until it became clear it wasn't working. 

Musk admits to making mistakes with automation 

On Friday afternoon, Musk addressed those points on Twitter.

"Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated," he wrote in response to a Wall Street Journal reporter. 

Musk hasn't said whether the company has plans to address an imbalance between human employees and robots or explained how it would do so, and a representative from Tesla said the company didn't have further comments on the matter beyond Musk's remarks. The company has about 10,000 employees at its Fremont factory.

Musk has described the Model 3 as one of Tesla's long-term goals since its early years — it began with high-end, higher-margin vehicles like the Roadster sports car, the Model S sedan, and the Model X SUV so it could prepare for the scale the Model 3 would require.

When Tesla launched the Model 3 in July, Musk said the company would produce 20,000 a month by the end of 2017. In the fourth quarter, it made just 2,425.

Last week, the company said it made 9,766 Model 3 vehicles during the first quarter of this year and expected to produce 5,000 a week by the end of June.

Musk has taken control of the Model 3 production process

Musk told King he took over the Model 3 production line earlier this year and had been sleeping at the factory to make sure manufacturing stays on target.

As the company has increased its rate of Model 3 production, it has engaged in a public disagreement with the National Transportation Safety Board, which has been investigating a fatal Model X crash involving the company's Autopilot semi-autonomous-driving system.

Tesla has insisted that the driver's inattention caused the crash, and the NTSB has expressed frustration that Tesla has revealed details of the crash during the agency's investigation.

On Thursday, Tesla said it chose to stop being a party to the investigation. The NTSB, meanwhile, said it had removed the company's party status.

You can watch the CBS clip below. 

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