SAN FRANCISCO • Tesla reached its milestone of building 5,000 Model 3 vehicles in the final week of the quarter and in the process became "a real car company", said chief executive Elon Musk.
"We did it!!" he proclaimed in an e-mail to employees obtained by Bloomberg News on Sunday.
"We either found a way or, by will and inventiveness, created entirely new solutions that were thought impossible."
Hitting the target is another against-all-odds achievement for Mr Musk, who first revealed the Model 3 in late 2016, and a relief for customers who have waited patiently for their electric cars.
The 47-year-old said he celebrated his birthday earlier this week at the factory, where he had been posting photographs of drive units and the paint shop to his social media accounts.
To make the goal, he even built a tent to house a third general assembly line at the Fremont, California, factory.
"Intense in tents. Transporting entire production lines across the world in massive cargo planes. Whatever. It worked," he wrote.
The company may hit 6,000 Model 3s a week next month, he wrote. Including Model S and X production, the factory knocked out 7,000 vehicles last week, he said.
The key will be whether Tesla can sustain the pace, said AutoPacific product analysis manager Dave Sullivan.
"Reaching it is one thing," he wrote in an e-mail. "Consistently producing 5,000 per week with outstanding quality is another."
Not impressed was Mr Steven Armstrong, Ford Motor's chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "7,000 car, circa 4 hours (heart) Ford Team (heart)," he wrote on his verified Twitter account, parodying a similar tweet from Mr Musk about Tesla's weekly output.
The assembly plant reached the target by early Sunday, according to workers who asked not to be identified, with one saying cheers were heard at the end of the line at around 5am local time.
A photo of employees signing a banner welcoming them to the "Model 3 5K Club" was deleted from Twitter and remains on Reddit.
Tesla is expected to release official numbers soon.
Reaching the target reflects the fever pitch as production ramped up throughout the quarter.
Three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg gave estimates for production, which averaged 30,167 in total for the quarter - or roughly 2,320 cars a week.
Early last month, Mr Musk told shareholders at the annual meeting that he was feeling optimistic about Model 3 production, thanks to a third general assembly line. It turns out that the third line was being built outside - and under the massive tent.
"I think we just became a real car company," he wrote.