AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Silicon Valley hoped the Tesla Model 3 would turn the auto industry on its head, but now, years later, the company is fighting for its future.
There are hundreds of auto suppliers and consultancies in the neighborhood by the old Silverdome. Munro and Associates buys cars, tears them apart and finds out how well they're built and what they cost. The latest project was taking a Tesla Model 3 apart.
As the engine, battery pack, and heating and cooling system were pulled apart, Munro's markings show there are problems with fit and finish, the industry term for tight seams and solid assembly.
Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs called the exercise "interesting."
"We saw brilliant electronics, clever designs, and then we saw some really basic things, like the body that we know how to do here in Detroit, not done well at all," Krebs said.
Lately, members of the industry have started to wonder if Tesla can survive. The Detroit Bureau's Paul Eisenstein said it's a 50-50 shot right now.
"If they get some critical things done soon, and that's primarily their manufacturing, they could be worth every penny of that inflated stock price," Eisenstein said. "The flip side: if they don't get production up quickly, I don't see how they can survive."
Krebs agreed with Eisenstein that the next few months are going to be critical for Tesla. CEO Elon Musk said he's sleeping in the factory, trying to get things right. But investors are starting to get impatient, so it's something to watch closely.