During a recent interview with Tesla owner-enthusiast Sean Mitchell, Detroit veteran Sandy Munro of Munro and Associates mentioned that among the Model 3’s unique components, its “Superbottle” is one of the most innovative. Combining two pumps, one heat exchanger, and one coolant valve in one cleverly-designed bottle, the Model 3’s cooling system is arguably the most unique in the auto industry.
The traditional automotive industry is all about suppliers and outsourcing the different components of a vehicle to different companies. This results in cars having redundant components. The Chevy Bolt, for example, has three cooling systems: one for its battery pack, one for its cabin, and one for its electronics. This is not the case with the Model 3, as the fondly-named Superbottle handles the entire cooling system of the whole vehicle — battery pack, cabin, and electronics included.
The Superbottle has garnered much recognition even among noted gearheads such as Jalopnik‘s David Tracy, who used to design automotive cooling systems himself. Munro, for his part, noted that the Superbottle actually gives several advantages for Tesla, such as increased modularity and packaging space, potential weight savings, reduced final assembly costs, and reduced final assembly time, to name a few. For Munro, the novel cooling system is the very definition of Tesla’s vertical integration.
“The Superbottle is a great example of how the normal automotive companies don’t work together, and Tesla does. That Superbottle crosses many lines that you can’t cross here (in Detroit). If I’m in charge of engine cooling or battery cooling, I don’t want nothing to do with cooling the cabin. And yet, we’ve got the motor cooling, the battery cooling, and electronics, all going through one little bottle that’s got some clever little ball valves that open and close to make sure that everything’s getting heated or everything’s being cooled to where it needs to be. We all thought that was the best thing in the whole damn car,” Munro fondly commented.
Discussing the Superbottle further, Munro mentioned how the cooling system is fitted with a bottle avatar dressed as a superhero. According to the auto veteran, this funny little character is a notable representation of just how different Tesla is as a car maker, as such fun Easter Eggs in a vehicle will never be allowed in traditional automakers. Together with the vertical integration that is showcased in the Superbottle, Tesla’s apparent support for creativity among its engineers and designers is something that is simply not present in traditional automakers today.
In a recent video, Tesla investor-enthusiast Galileo Russell of HyperChange TV noted that innovations such as the Superbottle could open the doors for the electric car maker’s other products. It is most certain that the Superbottle will end up in the Model Y, and variations of it would likely be used in other vehicles such as the Pickup Truck, the Semi, and the next-gen Roadster. Perhaps, Russell mused, Tesla’s Superbottle solution could even be utilized on the company’s upcoming HVAC products, which Elon Musk hinted at during his extensive podcast with Joe Rogan last year.
Tesla catches a lot of flak due to the fact that the company and its CEO, Elon Musk, seems unwaveringly intent on reinventing the wheel. With each new vehicle that it introduces, Tesla steps farther and farther away from traditional automakers. This is represented by the fact that the company is currently developing a literal giant casting machine for its Model Y crossover, which is expected to reduce the number of parts for the vehicle. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, as Tesla is also developing its custom Silicon for its full self-driving projects. It is then no surprise that when Sandy Munro was discussing how traditional automakers are playing catchup to Tesla in the EV market, he noted that “really and truly, all the domestics (automakers such as Ford and GM) are way behind.”