In its update for the first quarter of 2020, Tesla not only delivered a number of mostly positive business figures, but also insights into the production of its new Model Y which is being manufactured at the Tesla main plant in Fremont since this year. In the first quarter, more Model Y had already been produced in Fremont than Model 3 in Gigafactory Shanghai.
Tesla is already profitable with Model Y
Tesla CFO Zachary Kirkhorn said that Model Y was already profitable in this early phase – something that had never been seen before with a new Tesla model. This was justified, among other things, by many similarities with the Model 3 in parts and production processes as well as the already experienced US workforce. The margin of the latest electric car was still below the Tesla average, but according to Kirkhorn: it can only be increased significantly by increasing the number of units. According to CEO Elon Musk, this is possible thanks to technical innovations even with increasing quality, for example through less weight.
A first example of this principle is illustrated in the Tesla quarterly report; Musk had already discussed this in a podcast with production consultant Sandy Munro. Unlike the Model 3 with 70 parts, which Munro has clearly criticized, the rear structure of the Model Y only consists of 2 parts and a connection between them. Tesla presents this difference in four images: two 3D images of Model 3 and Model Y with the rear part highlighted and one image of the real part of both models, supported by pallets.
In a statement on the first quarter, Musk described the rear, which is made up of just two large cast components, as “revolutionary”. The Tesla CEO also confirmed statements from the podcast later this year that the structure will literally consist of a single cast, which will then basically make up the entire rear third of the Model Y. This advancement of technology for construction and production saves weight and reduces vibrations – “it is actually better in every respect”.
Giant die-casting machines
In the podcast, Musk had reported that Tesla had bought two huge die-casting machines. One of them is “as big as a small house”, imported from Italy, the installation should begin in May if possible. It can therefore be assumed that it will be used in Fremont, because the building for the production of the Tesla Model Y in China is still under construction (albeit at high speed).