Elon Musk says Model 3 assembly will ‘definitely’ start next month

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Elon Musk is setting some tight deadlines for Tesla again.

The brash tech tycoon said the electric-car maker — which has famously blown the ambitious production deadlines it sets — was “definitely” on track to start building its mass-market Model 3 next month.

What’s more, Musk told shareholders at Tesla’s annual meeting late Tuesday that the company is already drawing up plans to build new factories to produce its next major car — a smaller SUV it will call the Model Y.

“There’s just no room at Fremont,” Musk said, referring to Tesla’s plant in Fremont, Calif., that’s slated to handle Model 3 production. “We’re bursting at the seams.”

Musk is promising that the Fremont plant next year will crank out 500,000 Model 3s, which will retail for about $35,000 versus more than $100,000 for most versions of the Model S and the Model X. That’s up from a total of about 84,000 cars last year.

Tesla aims to make 5,000 Model 3 sedans per week by the end of this year and 10,000 per week in 2018.

Tesla hasn’t said how many people have put down $1,000 refundable deposits for the Model 3, but Musk said Tuesday customers who put down a deposit now won’t get a car until the end of 2018, indicating it could be as many as 500,000.

In addition, Musk told investors Tuesday that the Model Y — whose design hasn’t yet been finalized — will hit the streets in 2019.

“Probably demand for Model Y will exceed the demand for Model 3,” Musk said in a typically casual-yet-extravagant forecast.

Musk admitted, meanwhile, that Tesla “made a mistake” trying to build the Model X SUV on the same manufacturing platform as the Model S sedan.

“It would’ve been better to just design an SUV the way an SUV should be designed. Design a sedan, the way a sedan should be designed,” Musk said. “Otherwise, you’re just trying to shoehorn something that doesn’t make sense.”

Accordingly, Tesla is planning to make the Model Y on a different platform from the Model 3 and is giving “serious consideration” to adding at least one new plant by 2019 to make it happen — and possibly 10 or 20 worldwide in the longer run.

Manufacturing improvements could reduce the cost of cranking out the Model Y by “a factor of two” versus the Model 3, according to Musk.

Musk, who lately has tussled with shareholders — and sometimes gotten smart-alecky about it — over the outsize control he exerts over Tesla’s board, said Tuesday the company is looking add two or three independent directors in the next month or two.

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