Engineers tear apart Tesla Model 3 to see what makes it tick (YouTube video)

Thought some folks might be interested in this video about some engineers who tore apart the Tesla Model 3 to see how it’s put together and comment on it’s design. I found it pretty interesting, anyway.

Have I been drinking too much or are most of those shots a Model S?

Aren’t all of Elon Musk’s plans, or at least patents, available for free? Granted, looking at a schematic isn’t the same has physically taking something apart, but I don’t think you have to take it apart to see what makes it tick.

look, the entire industry does this. it’s called “competitive benchmarking.” Any time an all-new or significantly re-designed car or truck is launched, you can bet a significant number of other car companies have bought one to tear it down.

and just because something is patented doesn’t mean it’s incorporated in the finished product. nor does it mean said patent is for something incredibly unique and unheard of. I could say I have a patent on the 2019 Foobong Barbaz GT, even if that patent is for something as mundane as the new blend of plastics used for the center console mounting bracket.

Indeed, Munro (the guy in the video) is famous for doing exhaustive teardowns of new cars and selling extremely detailed (and extremely expensive) reports on his findings to other OEMs.

I found the battery design interesting. Is it replaceable?

I assume that long sheet of batteries is several panels mounted together.

My phone gets warm charging. Imagine the heat from Telsa’s battery pack. :wink:

I’m very surprised the body is considered heavy. Weight would be a big concern for the battery and distance the car can travel before recharging.


that’s why the battery thermal management runs while charging.

Teslas are mediocre cars carrying along an amazing battery.

Autopilot is a big selling point too.

Electric cars have been tried and didn’t catch on. Until, they improved the battery and smart features were added.

I noticed the tear down video didn’t look at Autopilot at all.

Not sure what I did to provoke such a harsh response.
And, now that I had a second to look at it, what Tesla is doing is allowing others companies to use the things they’ve patented ‘in good faith’.

I thought the batteries are what made it heavy.

the Model 3’s body is steel, and when Munro was on Autoline describing it, he said he was kind of confused why it was built the way it was. Specifically mentioning “panels welded to other panels,” as if reinforcements had to be added late in the design.

I didn’t see the video, so I don’t know how strange the sections he was looking at were, but honestly, we do this, too. Strength where you need it, and down-gage where you don’t.

OMG! Tell me they’re not using protomatter in the batteries!

But it was the only way to solve certain problems. If I hadn’t, it might have been years. Or never.

His criticism was more to the part count and the number of excess and different fasteners that were used. Modern coachmakers have learned to use elaborate hydroforming techniques to produce complex body components with high strength materials and variable thickness in order to minimize the number of pieces that have to be welded together to make a unified monocoque chassis which not only reduces weight but also the amount of labor (both human and machine) to assemble the frame and the variability from vehicle to vehicle, which probably explains the complaints about gapping body panels that have to be fit to each vehicle. On a modern car chassis you won’t see welded in doublers anywhere but suspension attachment points and tow/jack points because everywhere else the frame has been optimized to distribute loads.

He also observes how this high parts count drives the marginal cost of the vehicle; that is, every action that someone has to do adds a labor cost, and using excessive and many different types of fasteners also adds costs. Most carmakers dedicate the bulk of labor to fitment in the interior of the vehicle where the number of soft components requires human flexibility, with the bulk of powertrain and suspension components being put into place using robots with humans verifying fitment and tightening bolts and fasteners.

These are things a modern high volume automaker would have worked out in a design-for-manufacturing (DFM) process where manufacturing engineers would have gone over the design and pointed out all of the areas for simplification and cost reduction in manufacture. It would seem that Tesla did not do this with the car chassis and body, probably because they didn’t regard that as being a sufficiently sophisticated system to require optimization, but there is a lot of cost that can be driven out of manufacturing. And if Tesla wanted to, they could hire people and engage that process…but it would mean changing the design (internally, not apparent to the end customer) and making changes to the manufacturing process flow, which would require shutting down lines temporarily. Given their crunch to produce as fast as possible to appease investors it seems unlikely that they will do so in the near future, which is unfortunate because it probably means that Tesla can’t actually make a profit on the promised $35k Model 3.

They’re using Omega-13.


I had seen Munro’s estimate that the $50k car would produce a ~30% gross margin many, many times, mostly from Tesla fans. What I did not realize until watching this video was that Munro was saying that the car COULD be built with those margins IF Tesla got rid of its inefficient robots AND reduced its production workforce by 30% or so.

That caveat was surprising to me.

this is how it’s typically done:

you only catch a glimpse, but the powertrain and front suspension are on the lower conveyor as a module bolted to the engine cradle; the rear suspension module is also on the same carrier on the lower conveyor. The body hangs from the overhead conveyor, and when it’s time to mate the two, the carrier rises up while the body is lowered to meet the modules. alignment jigs keep them lined up while the operators drive fasteners.

incidentally, this is almost exactly the same way Tesla does it, for the powertrain, suspension and battery. it’s why I snerk every time someone claims “EVs are so much simpler and easier to build.”

yeah, from the start I interpreted it as their estimated margins based on the bill of materials and industry typical labor costs. what I think most of those Tesla fans don’t understand is that it’s quite possible for them to have an inefficient enough production process where that gross margin is just plain eaten up.