Elon Musk says: “If LEGO can do it, then we can too”

Elon Musk says: “If LEGO can do it, then we can too”

In a leaked email to Tesla employees, Elon Musk highlighted the need for high standards of quality and “single-digit micron” tolerance with the Cybertruck due to its straight edges.

Today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that he test-drove a production candidate Cybertruck at Gigafactory Texas.

Presumably, he also surveyed the Cybertruck production at the plant and the quality of the pickups Tesla is currently producing ahead of the official production start.

He came away from it with an interesting thought that he shared in an email to Tesla employees that leaked (first reported on Cybertruck Owners Club):

Due to the nature of Cybertruck, which is made of bright metal with mostly straight edges, any dimensional variation shows up like a sore thumb.​

All parts for this vehicle, whether internal or from suppliers, need to be designed and built to sub 10 micron accuracy.​

That means all part dimensions need to be to the third decimal place in millimeters and tolerances need be specified in single digit microns. If LEGO and soda cans, which are very low cost, can do this, so can we.​

Precision predicates perfectionism.​


Musk noted that the design of the Cybertruck, with its sharp edges and stainless steel finish, makes every imperfection look worse.

The CEO suggests that the Cybertruck needs to achieve a level of accuracy in the single-digit micron range on all parts in order for the fit and finish to look perfect.

He compared the approach to the requirements of products like LEGO and soda cans, which Musk has praised before for their high volume manufacturing capacity at low cost.

In the past, Tesla has often been criticized for its fit and finishes. However, it is generally accepted that the quality has improved over the years, and now Tesla’s latest products, like the Model Y, receive better reviews in that regard.

In 2018 Musk sent a similar email to Tesla employees with the piece below:


Most of the design tolerances of the Model 3 are already better than any other car in the world. Soon, they will all be better. This is not enough. We will keep going until the Model 3 build precision is a factor of ten better than any other car in the world. I am not kidding.

Our car needs to be designed and built with such accuracy and precision that, if an owner measures dimensions, panel gaps and flushness, and their measurements don’t match the Model 3 specs, it just means that their measuring tape is wrong.

Some parts suppliers will be unwilling or unable to achieve this level of precision. I understand that this will be considered an unreasonable request by some. That’s ok, there are lots of other car companies with much lower standards. They just can’t work with Tesla.

Certainly Tesla has improved since 2018 in their panel gaps and precision but clearly they are nowhere near these lofty goals.

Tesla is looking to launch the official Cybertruck production in the coming weeks for a delivery event by the end of the quarter.

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