Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the Model Y would be the safest midsized SUV on the road when it was unveiled in March 2019. Sandy Munro’s 11th episode of his Model Y breakdown series shows how the vehicle’s weld quality, added foam reinforcements, and “aluminum crush plate” could solidify Musk’s claims about the vehicle’s safety, while opening the doors towards better build quality.
Munro states the company’s focus on one welding technique has left him with nothing but positive remarks about the vehicle’s build quality. “The distancing is great. The edge is perfect. This is the kind of stuff that any car company…would be happy to have these kinds of welds all the way around,” he said.
The Model 3’s weld techniques were discussed during Munro’s teardown of the sedan in 2018 when he criticized Tesla’s use of multiple weld techniques. After stating the Model 3’s welding made it look like “a science project,” Munro claims the use of a single technique would have allowed for a more consistent build quality throughout the vehicle.
True to form, Tesla appears to have taken Munro’s suggestion for the Model Y. Tesla was consistent with the Model Y’s welds, and it surely impressed Munro. The electric car maker also used self-piercing rivets, or SPRs, to join dissimilar materials, like steel and aluminum. These two materials are present on the rear door flange welds, making for a quality build on the vehicle’s door frames.
Additionally, Tesla installed head impact countermeasures, or HICs, on several locations. These are used to soften the blow in the event of an accident where a passenger’s head collides off of a portion of the vehicle’s interior. Tesla’s decision to add this was a nice touch in Munro’s opinion, as it only increases the safety of the vehicle.
The Model Y is also equipped with a unique piece of aluminum in the upper lip of the trunk. Munro calls it the “aluminum rear crush plate/bracket.” The part holds the outer portions of the chassis together. The piece also is responsible for folding in the event of a rear collision.
This increases not only safety but also cost-effectiveness if an accident occurs because it will keep the outer frame of the vehicle from being compromised, Munro says. It is easy to remove thanks to a few bolts that are visible and readily accessible, and would also save a driver perhaps hundreds of dollars in labor costs at a shop. “If I hit a pole, it will cost me a few bucks, but it won’t cost me the whole damn car,” Munro jokes.
Under the rear seats, Tesla has installed not only EPP foam, which offers cost-efficiency and effectiveness, but also the Model 3’s floor cover plate. This is used to hold the rear seating assembly in place and separate the cabin from the undercarriage of the car where the battery is fitted. Tesla’s utilization of this Model 3 part proved the part was perfect for the Model Y, and the company has plenty in its stock bin, saving them time and money throughout the manufacturing process of the new vehicle.
Tesla’s already high safety marks for the Model 3 were improved even further in the Model Y thanks to recommendations from Munro. The auto expert’s discontent with the Model 3’s welding eventually led to improvements in the Model Y’s build quality. Tesla’s decision to add other safety features could make the vehicle Tesla’s safest car yet. Just as Elon Musk said a year ago, the Model Y may very well be the most reliable midsize crossover available to consumers.
Watch Munro Live’s breakdown of the Model Y’s safety features below.