By mid-2007, Tesla had grown to 260 employees and seemed to create the impossible. But then the earth-moving supply chain failed.


Early management errors

The Company had built the fastest and most beautiful electric car that the Welt had ever seen. All it had to do now was produce a whole lot of those cars -- a process that nearly bankrupted Tesla.

The Biggest Mistake of the TeslaGuide in the early stages had been their assumptions about the transmission system for the roadster. The Objective was from the beginning, if possible fast to get from 0 to 100, hoping that the extreme acceleration will be much awareness would trigger and provide driving pleasure.

Sand grain in gear

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To do this, the Tesla engineers had committed to a two-speed transmission for the transmission of power from the engine to the wheels. The first gear should bring the Roadster from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in less than four seconds, the second gear should reach for speeds up to 210 kilometers per hour.

Tesla commissioned the British transmission specialist Xtrac to design this component – ​​and had every reason to believe that there were none Problems would give. "Transmissions have been around since Robert Fulton built the steam engine," says Bill Currie, a veteran engineer from Silicon Valley and Employees Number 86 at Tesla.

“We thought we could just order one. But the first one that was delivered lasted only 40 seconds. " The first gearbox could not cope with the big jump from first to second gear and there was a risk that the second gear at high
Speed ​​would not be properly synchronized with the engine, which would have caused serious damage to the car.

Once again from the front

Lyons and the other engineers were quick to solve the problem. They found a number of other manufacturers who were able to supply replacement, and once again hoped that these long-time transmission specialists would be able to provide something useful.

Soon however it was clearthat these companies don't always send their best people to that Projects for a tiny start-up from Silicon Valley and that the new gearboxes weren't any better. At
Tests showed that the transmissions were sometimes broken after 240 kilometers and the average distance between two failures was only 3200 kilometers. A Team from Detroit conducted a root cause analysis and found 14 individual points that could trigger failure. Tesla planned to deliver the Roadster in November 2007, but transmission problems continued. When 2008 arrived, the company had to try all over again to get a working transmission.

Production in Asia

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Tesla also encountered problems abroad. The company decided to send a team of its youngest and most dynamic engineers to Thailand to build a battery factory there.

To this end, he has partnered with an enthusiastic, but not thoroughly competent partner. The Tesla engineers had been told they could fly over and coordinate the construction of a state-of-the-art battery factory. Instead, they found a concrete slab with a roof on wooden posts. The building was about three miles south of Bangkok and, like many other factories, had been largely left open because of the enormous heat.

The supply chain

The other local companies produced ovens, tires and other insensitive mass-produced goods. At Tesla, however, it was about sensitive batteries and electronics and, like parts of Falcon 1, they would have suffered from the salty, moist air. Ultimately, the Tesla partner spent $75.000 on drywall, floor coating, and air-conditioned storage rooms. The Tesla engineers, in turn, put in an extreme amount of work to teach the Thai workers how to properly use the electronics. The development of battery technology, which initially progressed at a rapid pace, almost came to a standstill.

The battery factory was just part of a supply chain that spanned the globe – and that drove them Costs and caused delays. Body panels for the roadster were to be produced in France, the engines would come from Taiwan. Tesla planned to purchase battery cells in China and then combine them into battery packs in Thailand. The battery packs had to be stored carefully and for as short a time as possible to avoid power losses.

USA or Asia?

Then they went by ship to England, where customs formalities were settled. According to the plans of Tesla, production of the bodywork and installation of the battery packs at Lotus should take place, then the roadster should come by ship around the Cape Horn to Los Angeles. In this scenario, Tesla would have had to finance a large portion of the car and had no chance of making sales with the parts before the end of six or nine months.

"The Idea was to go to Asia, things quickly and
to get it done cheaply and Money by car too to earnsays Forrest North, one of the engineers sent to Thailand. “But as we discovered, the really complicated things can be done more cheaply here, with fewer delays and problems.”

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