Embattled Tesla has temporarily shut down the assembly line for the Model 3, the electric sedan widely seen as critical to the success of the Palo Alto company.
Production of the Model 3 has been plagued by delays, with CEO Elon Musk forced twice to announce the firm would not hit manufacturing targets.
Now, Tesla has shut down the Model 3 assembly line at its Fremont factory.
The pause in production of the car will last four to five days, and came “without warning,” employees reportedly told Buzzfeed.
A Tesla spokesperson said Model 3 production included “periods of planned downtime” at the Fremont plant and its Nevada battery factory.
“These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates,” the spokesperson said.
“This is not unusual and is in fact common in production ramps like this.”
On April 13, Musk had tweeted that “excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake.”
Musk added, “Humans are underrated.”
The Model 3 starts at $35,000, but only premium-priced versions are currently in production, according to the company. Tesla says nearly a half million pre-orders have been made for the Model 3.
Model 3 production had been suspended for a week in February, with the company providing the same comments about “planned downtime” to “improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates,” according to a Bloomberg report in March.
On April 3, Tesla issued a press release saying “several short factory shutdowns to upgrade equipment” had helped it double the weekly Model 3 production rate for the first quarter of this year. Although the company said it had increased Model 3 production “exponentially” in the quarter, the 9,766 cars produced represented a much slower output than the 5,000 per week it had promised to make by the end of December, then by the end of…