Dealing with ongoing production issues with the Tesla Model X, CEO Elon Musk said that he has moved his desk onto the factory floor and is personally inspecting finished vehicles. The development process for the Model X was fraught with difficulty, which Musk recently cited as "hubris" leading to an 18-month delay in the first shipments. So Musk has put his desk on the floor of the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California, to personally oversee the process — even going so far as to slip into a sleeping bag to catch some shuteye when working late.
On the Tesla Q1 2016 earnings call, he said:
I'm personally spending an enormous amount of time on the production line. My desk is at the end of the production line; I have a sleeping bag in a conference room adjacent to the production line which I use quite frequently. The whole team is super focused on achieving rate and quality at the target cost. I feel very confident in us achieving that goal.
Later on in the call he added:
My desk has frequently been in the factory, so this is not some new thing. On the Model S my desk was also in the middle of the factory, at the start of the body line, for a year. I move my desk around to wherever the most important place is for the company, and then I'll maintain a desk there over time to come in and check on things. I suspect, probably by the end of this quarter, most of my time will not be spent on the factory floor.
The ramp-up of the Model X was laborious, with only 507 built by the end of 2015 and 2,659 in the first quarter of 2016. The process, complicated by a perhaps too-ambitious technology set for the Model X, has at least informed Tesla's work on the Model 3, which Musk says Tesla is aiming to make simpler and easier to produce.
Musk's attention to detail with the Model X has slowed the production line, but it has resulted in a small internal celebration. Just last week, at 3:00 AM on Friday, April 29th, 2016, the first "flawless" Model X rolled off the factory line — all previous cars had some sort of defect that required additional work before being delivered to its waiting customer. Musk said that numerous flawless examples of the Model X followed, but it's telling of how complicated and difficult to produce the SUV is that it took several months of active production for a ready-to-deliver vehicle to roll of the line.