How the Tesla Model S is made
Engineers at the HIS automotive research firm have stripped down a Tesla Model S to reveal exactly how the high-end electric sedan is made. Unsurprisingly, when they dissected the car they found the design, components and manufacturing process has more in common with a smartphone or tablet computer rather than a conventional car.
“It’s like looking at the components from the latest mobile device from an Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy product,” said Andrew Rassweiler, senior director for materials and cost benchmarking at IHS.
According to Rassweiler, the manufacturing of the Tesla Model S is a far cry from conventional methodology used by other automakers. “The cost structure of the electronics, the use of large displays in the cabin, the touch-screen-based controls, the mobile microchips - everything in this design makes the Tesla experience more like a media tablet or high-end smartphone than a traditional automobile,” he said.
How Tesla’s manufacturing process differs compared to other automakers
For its analysis, IHS is dissecting each subsystem in the Tesla, including the air-conditioning controls, safety systems and powertrain. The teardown is ongoing, but already significant differences between the development of the Tesla and other vehicles have been uncovered.
Infotainment system: The big 17-inch display and touch screen is much larger than the average automotive infotainment interface. It uses an NVIDIA Corp. Tegra 3, 1.4-gigahertz quad-core processor, which generates the same computing power of the latest smartphones and tablets. Typically the automotive industry is years behind the technology sector when it comes to technological development.
According to IHS the major module or ‘head unit’ of the infotainment system is extremely complex with more than 5,000 discrete components. It is also the most expensive example IHS has come across at approximately double the cost of the highest-end infotainment systems used by other luxury automakers.
Display and touchscreens: The display and touchscreens in the Tesla Model S are extremely high-end and the company has spared no expense. Similarly, the screens also are the most expensive part of an iPhone or iPad, Rassweiler noted, adding that Tesla was using the pricey parts because it wanted to present a mobile device-like interface for the driver.
“The company really wanted to do things differently and employed virtual controls - rather than physical knobs and buttons - to take over the user experience,” Rassweiler said. “This approach required a major investment in big displays and touch panels.”
The Model S display is 10 inches larger than the typical screen sizes seen in other cars. It is manufactured by TPK Holdings, which also has supplied touch-screens for Apple.
Electronics: Unlike most automotive manufacturers Tesla has also conducted its own design and engineering work on most of the vehicles’ electronics. Many of the printed circuit boards in the head unit and instrument cluster have the Tesla Motors label. Most automakers purchase similar electronic parts from suppliers such as Alpine, Harman and Panasonic, Rassweiler said.
Tesla’s approach provides more control over the costs and sourcing of parts. Tesla designs the circuit boards and likely has an electronics parts contractor build them. This is a strategy employed by smartphone or tablet sellers. Apple, for example, keeps tight control over its iPad and iPhone designs, while outsourcing the assembly to EMS companies such as Foxconn.
The Model S starts at about $71,000 and can reach in the region of $100,000 depending on specifications and additional extras.
Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the car would soon be available with an all-wheel-drive system and additional automated safety features. The company also plans to offer a high-performance version of the car that will start at $120,000. With a combined 691 horsepower from two electric motors, Tesla says the car will surge silently from 0-to-60 mph in 3.2 seconds. We cannot wait to get under the bonnet of that one.
Lion Electric to Construct US EV Manufacturing Facility
Who is Lion Electric?
Founded in 2008, is an innovative manufacturer of all-electric, zero-emissions, medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles. Lion Electric designs, manufactures, and assembles all components for its vehicles that have unique features specifically adapted to the users and their needs. “We believe that transitioning to all-electric vehicles will lead to major improvements in our society, environment and overall quality of life,” believes Lion Electric.
Lion Electric’s new Illinois Manufacturing Facility
Just two months after announcing plans to construct a battery manufacturing plant and innovation centre in Quebec, Lion Electric is expanding its locations further, selecting Joliet, Illinois for its new manufacturing facility in the US.
The new facility is said to “represent the largest dedicated production site for zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles in the US,” as well as being the company’s biggest footprint in the market. The new facility will give Lion Electric the capacity to meet increasing demand for ‘Made in America’ zero-emission vehicles and bring production closer to customers.
It is expected that the first vehicles off the production line will be in the second half of 2022.
“Lion’s historic investment to bring its largest production facility to Illinois represents not only a win for our communities, but a strong step forward in our work to expand clean energy alternatives and the jobs they bring to our communities,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“The new Joliet facility will put Illinois at the forefront of a national movement to transition to zero-emission vehicle use, advancing our own goals of putting one million of these cars on the road by 2030. In Illinois, we know that a clean energy economy is about more than just vehicles – it’s about healthier communities and jobs for those who live there. We are excited to welcome Lion to the Land of Lincoln and look forward to their future success here.”
Lion Electric’s Agreement with the Government of Illinois
Over the next three years, Lion Electric will invest a minimum of US$70mn into Illinois. The new facility - totalling 900,000 square feet - is expected to create a minimum of 745 clean energy direct jobs in the next three years, and have an annual production capacity of up to 20,000 all electric buses and trucks.
Scaling electric bus production and decarbonising freight and transportation
As the US moves to electrifying its school buses, the additional production capacity at the facility will help Lion Electric to scale its electric bus production, as well as produce an increased volume of heavy-duty zero-emission trucks to help governments and operators in the US further the decarbonisation of freight and transportation fleets.
“Lion is the leader in electric school buses and has always been dedicated to the U.S. market, and our commitment to be close to our customers is one of the core values we have as a company. This significant expansion into the U.S. market will not only allow us to drastically increase our overall manufacturing capacity of electric trucks and buses but to also better serve our customers, while adding critical clean manufacturing jobs that will form the backbone of the green economy,” said Marc Bedard, CEO and Founder of Lion.
“I also want to acknowledge the crucial role that P33 and Intersect Illinois, civic groups committed to developing developing a long-term roadmap for the local tech industry, played in connecting Lion with the Chicago area’s business and civic community to help further commercial traction, as well as engagement with key workforce and supplier partners.”