Elon Musk on stage, Freemont, California. © Tesla.
On Friday, at a ceremony at Tesla’s Freemont, California factory, Elon Musk handed the keys to the lucky owners of the first thirty Model 3s to roll off Tesla’s production line. “Frankly, we’re going to be in production hell,” he told a crowd of Tesla employees in a speech. “For at least six months, maybe longer.” The challenge is huge: so far, just 50 sedans have been built, 20 of which are being held back for testing and validation, while the company aims to ramp up production from 100 cars in August to a whopping 20,000 per month by December. Even so, people who are ordering their Model 3 now will have to wait until the end of 2018 to get it. The pressure to speed up production is raising concerns among factory workers over safety and the increased risk of accidents. A factory worker organization called “A Fair Future at Tesla” sent an open letter to the company’s board of directors complaining of the lack of transparency over the safety risks of the job. 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Tesla’s injury rate in 2015 was higher than that of sawmills and slaughter houses.