Elon Musk is one of many people who predicted that the Model Y would be Tesla’s most successful vehicle to date. The vehicle not only has mass-appeal due to its crossover body style and environmental advantages, but it also is Tesla’s most structurally innovative vehicle yet. The Model Y’s underbody rear casting is one of the reasons the car has become recognized as a marvel of automotive engineering, and Musk delved into the details of the project, along with advancements the company intends to make to it by the end of 2020.
During Tesla’s Q1 2020 Earnings Call, Musk discussed the strides the electric automaker had made in the first three months of the year. After outlining Tesla’s somewhat surprisingly successful Q1 despite the coronavirus pandemic, Musk dove into the Model Y and its superior casting design compared to past Tesla vehicles.
“For Model Y, we introduced a revolutionary two-piece rear underbody casting that we are going to be making a single-piece casting later this year,” Musk said. “Meaning like essentially the rear third of the body is cast as a single piece, which is no casting of the size of complexity has never been done before.”
Automotive industry veteran Sandy Munro once said that if Tesla had contracted someone to help produce the early versions of the Model 3, the car would have immediately wiped the floor with everyone. After Munro tore down the Tesla sedan in 2018, Musk and the company realized that there were improvements needed in the build of the car. These started with later builds of the Model 3, but the more significant improvements would be passed on to the Model Y, a sibling of the Model 3 as the two vehicles share 75% of the same parts.
One of the biggest complaints Munro had about the Model 3 was the rear casting. He felt the car was “over-engineered” because it utilized around 100 parts for the rear trunk. However, the Model Y is an entirely different build, and it is something Munro has complimented during recent episodes of his teardown series.
Tesla’s idea for the Model Y was to simplify the build process and utilize fewer parts. But nobody has ever come close to using two parts for rear casting as Tesla did with the Model Y. The decrease in parts helps with the build quality, weight reduction, and production efficiency.
“So, we’re really pushing the envelope on vehicle structural, engineering, and manufacturing. I’m very excited about this approach as it allows us to reduce the weight of the cast and improve NVH. It’s better in every way essentially,” Musk said.
In the past, Munro said that the Model 3’s welding processes looked like “some kind of a science project.” This issue wasn’t present in only the rear casting on the Model 3 but also throughout the entire vehicle. However, Tesla improved on all of these issues with the Model Y, much to the approval of Munro, who has seemed very happy with the build quality of the electric crossover.
The Model Y’s improved build quality and use of revolutionary technology give all indications that the car will end up being what everyone predicted it to be: Tesla’s most successful car in its short but rich history.