When Tesla unveiled the Model 3 in the summer of 2017, the company had released its first affordable vehicle. The Model 3 had numerous selling points, though some first production vehicles were reported to exhibit a lot of road noise inside the cabin, especially at high speeds.
Model 3 owners looked for any number of ways to reduce the noise. These included aftermarket door seals, tire foam insulation, and other modifications. Later builds of the vehicle displayed an improved noise reduction system, as CEO Elon Musk had noted in October 2019 that cabin noise had been “significantly improved in current production” of the Model 3.
In a recent episode of Sandy Munro’s extensive Model Y teardown series, the automotive veteran took a look at the numerous improvements Tesla made to its electric crossover. While the Model Y is not a sedan like the Model 3, the two vehicles are effectively siblings as they share 75% of the same parts.
Tesla adopted several new strategies to keep the Model Y’s cabin quiet. According to Munro, the outer portion of the vehicle’s firewall was covered by a mat made of “lofted fiberglass.” Fiberglass is an excellent insulating material that is used within residential buildings and houses to maintain temperature. However, it is also useful for reducing sound due to its thick and dense nature.
The inside of the firewall, which faces inward toward the vehicle’s cabin is quite different. Tesla used polyurethane (PUR) and Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO). PUR is a material commonly used when soundproofing rooms and is usually shaped like an egg carton to deaden sound waves. TPO is traditionally utilized for roofing and uses a mixture of rubber, talc, glass, carbon fiber, and other materials to insulate heat and sound. It is also used to reduce cabin noise in cars, as its flexible nature allows it to be conformed to the twists and turns of a vehicle’s body.
Additionally, Tesla opted to use a series of pumpable and mastic sound deadener strips throughout the floorboard of the Model Y. These two materials can remove vibrations from the vehicle by stiffening the areas in the Model Y’s frame that are prone to excessive vibration. Both the pumpable and mastic sound deadeners were more frequently placed in the rear portion of the vehicle, where noise and vibrations are especially potent.
Tesla’s installation of these elements provided a much quieter ride for passengers and drivers. Long drives on highways at speeds of 55 MPH or more can prove to be some of the noisiest driving conditions, regardless of whether one is driving an EV or a petrol-powered car. This is due to wind, tire friction with the road, and outdoor weather conditions. These noises are easier to notice in an electric car, since the lack of a working internal combustion engine pretty much amplifies other noises in the cabin.
Tesla seems to have set out to make the Model Y its quietest car yet, and it seems to have succeeded. This is reflected in the feedback of some Model 3 owners, such as YouTube host Brian Jenkins, who recently posted a video documenting his favorite features of the Model Y after 1,200 miles of driving. Jenkins notes the Model Y’s quiet ride is one of his favorite features. He added that he expected more cabin noise, but the Model Y’s cabin remained quiet. Prior to getting a Model Y, Jenkins drove a Model 3 that he fitted with noise reduction seals.
Interestingly enough, Tesla has released Joe Mode last year, a feature that reduces the audible alerts in the vehicle’s rear to prevent kids from waking up during nighttime trips. Coupled with the Model Y’s already-quiet cabin, features like Joe Mode will be extra effective. It can even be an additional selling point for the vehicle. Every parent out there who has attempted long road trips with kids would attest to the importance of a quiet cabin when the kids are asleep, after all.
Watch Sandy Munro’s breakdown of the Model Y’s cabin noise reduction below.