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Elon Musk Is Not the Manipulative Mastermind Everyone Takes Him for These Days

If Tesla were to make the headlines on Thursday morning, November the 16th, it definitely would have been something about how it failed to deliver the promised ramp-up of the Model 3 production.
The electric sedan, the brand's first mass-market product and the one that's supposed to start bringing in the cash, has had a troublesome market debut. The numbers published by Tesla show the company only managed to deliver 220 units instead of the planned 1,500 throughout the third-quarter, which is a terrible result for an already low target.

The media published reports about the company using manual labor to overcome the issues with the production line, though they were never openly confirmed by Tesla. In the end, it turned out that the invoked "bottleneck" was at the battery module assembly area inside the Gigafactory.

The latest from Musk on the situation is that the worst is behind and the initial forecast of 5,000 units built each week by the end of this year has been pushed by back three months. However, even if Tesla sticks to the plan, that still isn't the end of its Model 3 woes.

Not too long ago Consumer Reports issued an "average" reliability rating prediction for the new EV, while an analyst for Bernstein said it had "relatively poor" fit and finish quality after a hands-on experience with the Model 3. Meeting the numbers might not be enough for Tesla if it doesn't do it without denting the sedan's appeal as well.

But that was Thursday morning. In the evening, all the media would talk about were the two new vehicles unveiled by Tesla: the Semi Class 8 electric truck and Roadster II sports car with hypercar performance. The unveiling event went smoothly, and with the desired effect.

Some parts of the public, however, weren't buying it. They saw through the smoke and mirrors and realized this was just Elon Musk trying to shift attention from the company's current and very real problems on some fictitious products it may or may not build.

And they were partly right. Musk did take advantage of the situation, but it wasn't something he had planned way back earlier this year when he first announced the Semi event, as well as the "something extra" that turned out to be the Roadster. Unless his followers are right and he is indeed an alien, he couldn't have known the Model 3 production would stumble and prepare the Semi show as a decoy.

Besides, if they were right in assuming it was all orchestrated, postponing the event until the Model 3 problems were over made no sense. He should have released the Kraken while the crisis was at its peak, not now, when he claims it's on the mend.

And, given all this, it's not like he did something other companies would shy away from. Blaming him for this strategy would be like pointing the finger at Volkswagen for promising electric cars in an attempt to put Dieselgate in the past and show it's willing to change.

Both the Semi and the new Roadster were a show of strength, a display for both the large public and the possible investors of what the company can do if it has the money to do it. Despite burning through it like a steam locomotive through cox going uphill, cash hasn't been a problem for Tesla in later years. However, if the Model 3 fails, so does the company, and these two premiers just bought Tesla a bit of much-needed breathing space. Let's hope it uses wisely because we really want to see that new Roadster on the road in 2020.


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