A radically redesigned Model Y will be built at Tesla’s fourth gigafactory near Berlin, Germany, Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters outside the Gigafactory 4 currently under construction in Gruenheide, Musk said that the German-built Model Y will not be a simple copy of the Californian car maker’s fourth production vehicle, but a “radical redesign” of its “core technology”.
Musk did not elaborate on which core technologies he meant in his comments during the unscheduled press event, which was captured by smartphone and later posted on YouTube by Tobias Lindh (see below).
Musk has said previously he expects sale of the the Model Y electric crossover to be more successful than the Tesla Model 3, Model S and Model X combined.
With a plethora of groundbreaking features that have been hailed by veteran auto engineer Sandy Munro as a step change in innovation, the Model Y’s most significant new features are a highly efficient heat pump and a single-cast rear piece.
Now it would seem that Tesla is going to take the Model Y’s design and development even further.
Speaking about the upcoming Berlin factory during his visit there this week to check on its progress, Musk said that, “there’s a bunch of innovative stuff that we will be doing here that we will tell you about in the future.”
He went on to explain that this will include major innovations in the production of the Model Y, adding that more will be revealed during the company’s Battery Day on September 22, 2020.
“It’s not just a copy of the Model Y, it’s actually a radical redesign of the core technology of building a car,” he said.
“It will be the first time that there’s going to be a transformation in the core structural design of the vehicle. It’s quite a big thing.”
Naturally, there will be loads of speculation in coming days on what Musk means.
Is Musk referring to the expansion of the “mega casting” program as discussed at the company’s Q2 2020 earnings call in July when he said, “there’s about half a dozen other parts that are added on that will transition to a one-piece casting.”
Will the Model Y redesign include an entire body casting made with the Giga Press that Tesla ordered from China, that will be utilised in Berlin, not Shanghai?
And what will Battery Day revelations mean for the Model Y redesign in terms of driving range and efficiency?
Musk also spoke again about the “innovative” paint shop that Tesla is installing at the Berlin Gigafactory 4, emphasising that he believes it will be the most advanced such shop in the auto industry, with a “very cool” multi layer paint system that would be better than Fremont (although that will also be upgraded at some time).
He also congratulated the building companies involved in the swift construction of the Berlin factory, which he said is important because the speed with which the transition to sustainable transport and energy takes place will determine how quickly the planet can mitigate climate change impacts.
“I believe in speed. And I think also, well, to be serious for a second, I think it’s very important for our climate that we move quickly,”Musk said.
“It matters. I think it’s very important that we accelerate the transition to sustainable energy and that we move as quickly as possible. So this is the reason for the sense of urgency… And I’ve been saying this for a long time. It’s good to see some companies like VW taking this seriously now, but still only a very small percentage of cars that are made are electric.”
Musk also said he thinks that down the track, Tesla will build more than just cars in Germany.
“And then I think we will maybe do more than cars here. I think we will probably be building some battery cells and some other things here,” he told reporters.
“I think that’ll be good for stationary storage of wind and solar. Essentially, the three elements that are necessary for a sustainable energy future are sustainable energy generation, energy storage, and sustainable transport — electric cars, and eventually, electric aircraft. Ironically, everything will go electric except rockets,” Musk said.
“I’m pretty confident this will be the most environmentally friendly factory in the world,” Musk said. “We’re open to criticism and advice for what we can do better.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.