Tesla will make an “improved” version of the Model Y electric crossover at its upcoming Berlin and Austin electric car factories, CEO and co-founder Elon Musk said on Tuesday (Australia time).
The Model Y that rolls off German and Texan factory floors will be constructed from both front and rear cast body pieces, said Musk, as well as a structural battery pack.
Changing to whole cast body pieces – achieved by installing massive “Giga Press” machines that churn out the castings like giant toy cars – will help reduce the complexity, weight and cost of making Model Ys, Musk says.
“The Model Ys in Texas and and Berlin will look very much like the Model Y certainly, but that there are substantial improvements in the difficulty of manufacturing,” Musk said at Tesla’s second-quarter earnings call for 2021.
It means that there will be a substantial difference between manufacturing costs between the Fremont-made and those made at the company’s newer factories, once they come online.
“So for example, the Model Y was made here, and in Berlin will have a cast front body, and a cast rear body. Whereas, the one in California has a cast rear body but not a cast front one,” he said.
Integrating the battery pack as part of the structure of the car will also help reduce weight and cost, said Musk.
But the Tesla boss also took pains to impress that scaled production of all elements of the company’s new models and battery cells was “insanely” more difficult than making prototypes.
This is particularly so when implementing new production processes that have never been done before.
To this end, Musk said that Tesla has “backup plans” for production at Berlin and Texas.
“We’re also aiming to do a structural pack with 4680s, which is a mass reduction and a cost reduction,” he said.
“And we’re not counting on that as the only way to make things work, we have a backup plans with structural and non structural pack and 2170 (battery cells).”
The Model Y was introduced to the US market in March 2019, and Musk has said on record multiple times that he believes it will become a more successful electric vehicle than the Model 3, Model S and Model X combined.
It is currently made in both Fremont and at the company’s Shanghai factory in China where production is being ramped up.
In late June, Tesla opened up the first right-hand-drive market – Hong Kong – signalling that an Australian launch of the vehicle is stepping closer.
While this could still be some months away, speculation about local Model Y pricing is now starting at about $A66,000.
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.