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10x Precision on the Model 3? Think about that...


Cyber-Bandit is Ready!
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Jul 25, 2016
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I read this in Elon's 6,000 units/week mission message this week and I about fell off my chair. Aside from the fact that everyone loves precision (and a squeaky panel would likely squeak the same for every vehicle - repeatability is king), I think it's his secret to fast assembly, and I bet his goals are 10x by definition. Strong relationship between precision and speed and I bet one is predicting the other in this case.

Imagine threading a needle with a machine - lower precision would require slower speeds to be successful, maybe several attempts or a least stop and proceed slowly. Now imagine a Falcon Rocket trying to land on a floating platform. Precision really matters when going fast - obviously! A fiducial image recognition on a part could be so accurate, the robot literally flys in to the spot from feet away... not close then find again, not after a second try... just boom. And critically damped like we like it.

Tesla and SpaceX really do share this technology. So is 10x enough to cause a "blurred" Assembly line I wonder? Elon, come on, I know you can do 20x, then move them even closer together and coordinate their movements in space for even a smaller factory footprint. Go dude!
Everyone does love precision. And yet we buy Teslas anyway. The body panel and trim fit on my late 2016 Model S is not visibly better than it was on my early 2013 Model S (I do not see how the rear hatch shut lines can get any better without changing the tooling), and arguably is among the worst in the industry. It's certainly the worst of the five cars I own.

I think a more modest and achievable goal might be "working hard to get at least up to industry standards" in quality, but then Elon's never been about "modest and achievable" goals, right? It's why we love him.
I've had some poor quality cars in the past ( eighties and nineties Dodge and Chevy). They were poor in almost every aspect .

The Tesla S and X have poor quality body panel fit but the drivetrain and electronics are excellent. It is strange Tesla can't figure out this piece of the puzzle.
Panel gaps = quality

How did we come down to this definition of quality?

It's one aspect of quality. On my 2013 P85, the sun visor mirror covers fell off in my lap. The magnet holding the charge port door closed come loose. There was poor interior panel fit, a problem with the "contactor assembly", a premature failure of the 12V battery, a malfunction of the MCU that required a complete replacement, and many other niggling things.

My 2016 has been much better although it was delivered with a dead PX2 drive computer. "Delivered with", mind you, which implies a fairly significant failure in QC. Still, it's been the only functional problem. The panel gaps still suck. The inconsistent rear hatch gaps are obvious enough that friends that aren't car people have noticed.

But I suppose the real answer to your question is that we should consider panel gaps to be an indication of quality because it looks as if Elon does. When he says his goal is for Tesla quality to be "10x better" than anyone else's, and that if you measure a Tesla and don't get the result you expect, the measuring device is wrong, then I have to think "body panels that fit" would come under that...

(The deeply suspicious among us might wonder why Tesla, alone among auto makers, doesn't supply JD Power with customer data for their Initial Quality Study..Tesla snubs J.D. Power for Initial Quality Study data)
Well.. I picked my 3 this evening. Believe me, I looked hard. I even had a magnifying glass with me. I ran my fingers through. Didn't see any scratches or paint blemishes. No panel gaps that stood out. The fact that I didn't find any only means I am not good at it. A bit disappointing after reading pages and pages of poor quality build. I understand I need to work harder.

With that out of the way....

Driving it back home was a hoot. AP started working at around 40 miles in the odometer. AP worked exactly as I expected. For my use case, it was no different from AP1 in my S. Efficiency was surprisingly around 240 Wh/mile. All my fear of changing AP speed using UI was unfounded, since they gave that capability on the scroll wheel. Now it just as good as how you do it in the 'S'. Different, but just as good.

Not a big fan of the UI compared to S. No I will be bit more blunt. After using an S, UI on the 3 is a POS. I miss the efficiency graph for 5/15/30 miles. I also miss the fact that there is no automatic reset of wh/mile, miles driven and minutes driven every time you start the car after charging. I loved that information in 'S'. In the '3' I can get the same functionality if I remember to reset one of the trip meters every time before I start the car in the morning. Changing temperature is a Peta. it is difficult to find those little up and down arrows while driving.

Ride was not noisy, as I was bit worried after reading about tire and wind noise. I think it has the same noise level as 'S'. Not as good as some of my other ICE cars. Tesla needs to work harder to get a more quieter cabin. i am still thinking I will put the aftermarket seal around the glass in the roof. Not too expensive and easy to install. Maybe it will help to get it more quieter. Maybe not.

I don't see the point of the big glass roof. I think it will radiate heat in and out depending on the outside temperature, and I also think it contributes to the noise level.

Audio quality was fantastic. Phone conversations were crystal clear.

I really can't wait for the 'Y'. It will be a fantastic car without a doubt.