Tesla Is Telling Us the Supply Shortage Is Hitting it While Trying to Hide It

First, Tesla cut radars from its cars and said it was pursuing Tesla Vision instead. Then, it removed adjustable lumbar support because its statistics said nobody used it. More recently, the company stopped delivering its cars with mobile connectors but is handing them with engineering samples of modem chips. All this indicates that Tesla is telling us it is having a hard time with supply shortages while trying to hide that.
Tesla removed the mobile connector from new cars and is using engineering samples in them: supply chain crisis, anyone? 13 photos
Photo: Tesla/Twitter
Tesla removed the mobile connector from new cars and is using engineering samples in them: supply chain crisis, anyone?Tesla Mobile Connector Being UsedTesla Model YTesla Mobile ConnectorTesla Mobile ConnectorTesla Mobile ConnectorTesla removed the mobile connector from new cars and is using engineering samples in them: supply chain crisis, anyone?Elon MuskElon MuskElon MuskElon MuskElon Musk Jokes About Bankruptcy When It Was a Legitimate Concern
If Tesla was willing to admit it, it would just call these suppressions for what they are: measures to deliver as many EVs as it can produce. The company’s advocates praised it for its engineering edge of approving chips that would take ages for other automakers to use. The issue is that they conveniently forget that there is a reason for them to take so long to be approved: tests. Shortcuts to get things into production lines frequently charge a heavy price, mostly from customers.

The latest example of these measures to keep production going at all costs seems to be using engineering samples in ICEs – Tesla’s multimedia computers. The Model S and the Model 3 used MCUs, which presented serious problems with eMMC flash memory chips and were replaced by ICEs in the latest refresh of these two models.

We have already written everything we know about these engineering samples, but it is important to raise awareness as much as possible. According to GreenTheOnly, the ICE comes with a Quectel AG525R-GL modem chip with the inscription “engineering sample” in all Model S Plaid, Model 3, and Model Y units with AMD chips, regardless of where they are manufactured. Why would a production car have “engineering sample” components in it if not due to a lack of production chips? We have contacted Quectel to try to understand the situation.

Independently of the answer, the deal is that Tesla is cutting or changing multiple components to keep its assembly lines running while other automakers are simply stopping them. Not because they want or are not putting enough effort into finding solutions but because their vehicles have to follow minimum quality standards. They also can afford to do that, which leads us to ask if that’s also the case for Tesla.

Elon Musk frequently asks Tesla employees to make an effort to present high production and delivery number by the end of each quarter. He even asked Tesla advocates to show up at Tesla Service Centers to help deliver cars with no compensation other than a pat on the back and a “good job.” As most of these guys are also Tesla shareholders, rising stock prices may be all they want in return.

If sales numbers fell down due to supply issues, that sort of goodwill could start to vanish. People could also realize they are receiving cars with less content for the same price. These vehicles delivered in a rush also present poor build quality, which helped coin the inside joke “within specs.” That’s what Tesla customers hear whenever they complain about uneven panel gaps, paint issues, and a long etcetera.

Curiously, a recent interview from RJ Scaringe helps to shed light on why Tesla is so reluctant in admitting the supply chain crisis is also affecting it. The Rivian CEO told Automotive News he would not worry about production now because he did not conceive his company “focused on next week.” Scaringe said that Rivian is sufficiently capitalized not to fear for its financial viability. What about Tesla?

Musk has said more than once that the EV maker could have gone bankrupt on multiple occasions. When he joked about that on April 1, 2018, it was an attempt to dismiss a well-founded concern. Tesla’s resistance to stopping production when it lacks the components to keep going feeds similar worries. On top of that, it also delivers vehicles that may damage the company’s reputation in the long run.

The Tesla CEO said the company cut mobile connectors with new cars because statistics said people didn’t use them. Nobody bought that. There is no explanation yet for the “engineering samples.” If Musk stopped downplaying people’s intelligence and was just candid about the company’s difficulties and struggles, he would inspire a lot more confidence than by pretending real issues are just a joke – or an engineering opportunity for solutions no serious automaker would ever adopt.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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