Tesla might be having problems, but its latest acquisition shows it's pushing forward with robot manufacturing

  • Tesla is buying Perbix, an automated-manufacturing company.
  • The deal is the second Tesla has done to automate its systems.
  • The goal, as CEO Elon Musk has said, is to improve the machine that builds the machine.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a big idea, and the company’s latest acquisition of a Minnesota-based automated manufacturing company proves it.

As reported by Bloomberg’s Dana Hull, Tesla bought longtime supplier Perbix. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

The move follows Tesla’s purchase of Grohmann Engineering, a German automation specialists, last November.

With its new Model 3, a vehicle that starts at $US35,000, Tesla is trying to radically automate and accelerate production. So far, the effort has been uneven. The carmaker recently pushed back its Model 3 timetable; it will now be March 2018 before a run-rate of 5,000 vehicles per week is achieved at Tesla’s California plant, a level that was supposed to arrive in December of 2017.

The bottlenecks are at the carmaker’s Nevada battery factory, but the Model 3 rollout is also a test of Musk’s goal of changing the auto industry in a way that hasn’t been seen since the 1980s, when Japanese production systems began to displace slower and less efficient techniques that Detroit had relied on.

The big idea is to improve the “machine that builds the machine,” as Musk likes to put it. With a much higher degree of automation, Musk believes Tesla can greatly reduce the cost of automaking.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “Perbix, which started as a maker of machining equipment 41 years ago, has quietly been working with Tesla for nearly three years on automated tools that include a system that makes the drive-unit rotors in its cars.”

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