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Elon Musk memo on Cybertruck manufacturing challenges

The Tesla Cybertruck during a tour of the Elkhorn Battery Energy Storage System in Moss Landing, California, U.S., on Monday, June 6, 2022.

Nik Coury | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been promoting the company’s long delayed, sci-fi inspired Cybertruck on social media this week. However, the electric vehicle maker still hasn’t issued final pricing and specs for the trapezoidal pickup, which it first unveiled in November 2019, and a company-wide email sent by Elon Musk implies he’s worried about “precision” in manufacturing the truck because its “straight edges” mean variations show up “like a sore thumb.”

In its second-quarter financial filing with the SEC, Tesla said its factory in Austin, Texas, was working on “tooling” for the Cybertruck, and production status was not yet active. The company also said in a shareholder deck for at that time that it was “working on equipment installation for Cybertruck production, which remains on track for initial deliveries this year.”

The company has not said when it expects to be able to mass-produce the vehicle.

On Wednesday, Musk shared a post on X, formerly Twitter, with an image of the Cybertruck saying “Just drove the production candidate Cybertruck at Tesla Giga Texas!” In automotive manufacturing, a “candidate” is an early model of a vehicle that the manufacturer uses to gauge the quality of their production systems and vehicle assembly lines.

A Tesla promoter and fan pressed Musk for more details on the social platform Wednesday, writing in a post, “Enough with the hype, let’s get down to business. Please announce the specs, pricing and new estimated delivery event date.”

The Tesla CEO, who also owns and runs X (formerly Twitter) after a $44 billion buyout last year, replied: “When we are ready to do so, we will. While I think it is our best product ever, it is an extremely difficult product to build. We are in uncharted territory, because it is not like anything else.”

Musk also sent out an e-mail to “everybody” at Tesla about the Cybertruck and the challenges of producing the vehicle on Wednesday. Tesla employees shared a copy of the e-mail with CNBC and asked to remain un-named since they were not authorized to speak with press about internal matters. News of the memo was previously published by Electrek.

What Musk said in the e-mail implies that Tesla is still struggling with Cybertruck quality. Shares of Tesla were dipping slightly early Thursday following Musk’s Cybertruck comments and the email.

Here’s what the email said, as transcribed by CNBC.

From: Elon Musk

To: Everybody

Date: August 23, 2023 [time stamp removed]

Subj. Cybertruck Precision

Due to the nature of Cybertruck, which is made of bright metal with mostly straight edges, any dimensional variation shows up like a sore thumb.

All parts for this vehicle, whether internal or from suppliers, need to be designed and built to sub 10 micron accuracy.

That means all part dimensions need to be to the third decimal place in millimeters and tolerances need be specified in single digit microns.

If LEGO and soda cans, which are very low cost, can do this, so can we.

Precision predicates perfectionism.


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