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Is Tesla Engaging in ‘Risky’ Behavior?

Tesla takes a key step out of its manufacturing process, but will the risky move pay off or backfire?

Tesla, Tesla, Tesla. Why is it I can’t visit the internet without seeing your name in lights at least once a week?

We’ve got two big stories, but we’ll start with what several outlets are calling a “risky” change in Tesla’s Model 3 manufacturing process.

Reuters is reporting that Tesla, in an attempt to adhere to the lofty production goals it has set for its latest model, is basically removing a step by skipping the soft tooling stage and jumping straight into production tooling. According to TechCrunch, “most automakers start the production of a new model using prototype tooling and machinery that’s designed to help get the fit, finish and tolerances right on new vehicle parts.” Once they have things settled, the prototype tooling is replaced with the real deal production equipment. In Tesla’s case, they’re investing in the good stuff right off the bat, and basically skipping the practice round.

If successful, the move could save Tesla a boatload of time and money. In fact, Reuters says the soft tooling stage actually resulted in some big time problems for Tesla during the production of Model X SUV, which likely left a bad taste in their mouths. Not to mention this strategy has worked for other manufacturers, such as Audi, who was allegedly able to launch production 30 percent faster than usual at one of its Mexico plants when it tried this approach. In unrelated news, former Audi executive Peter Hochholdinger, who was involved in this Mexico plant launch, is now Tesla's vice president of production.

But if it’s not successful, it could add a lot of unforeseen cost and delay to the process. We just won’t know until we’re there.

In another cliffhanger about Tesla, we take you to China where a Tesla owner is trying to get the company to pay up after an accident took place in their Model X SUV. According to Jalopnik, the owner and her boyfriend were being driven by a chauffeur when the car hit a guardrail, spun out and struck another vehicle head-on.

Owner Lee Tada says she and her boyfriend could hear the batteries exploding underneath them, but they were unable to open the rear Falcon wing doors. According to the report, they were able to escape through the front doors just before the car burst into flames.

In typical Tesla fashion, the company feels bad that they had a rotten time in their Tesla, but is taking zero percent blame – even releasing a statement that basically says, ‘Yup. Well, cars catch on fire sometimes when they crash.’ Which is true. And the thing about the doors is that there is a manual pull option in the event the vehicle loses power, but it’s possible the information – which is in the owner’s manual – was either not quite visible enough, or was not studied sufficiently by the owners. While the jury remains out on who is responsible, Lee has asked Tesla for 8 million Chinese yuan, or about $1 million U.S. dollars, in compensation. Tesla says – you guessed it – they have no intention of paying it.

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