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In summer 2019, Tesla published the patent “Multi-Directional Unibody Casting Machine for a Vehicle Frame and Associated Methods,” which disclosed a new casting machine that Tesla had planned to use for the Model Y. A year later, the giant Casting Machine--Giga Press--has started production, and Model Y made with a single-piece rear cast may already be rolling off the assembly line.
As CEO Elon Musk explained the goal is ultimately to cast the frame in just one part, "We'll go from 70 parts to 4, then one." The radically new concept of unibody casting will prove to be a game-changer in every aspect of the car and its manufacturing. It will enhance safety, range, performance, manufacturing and material cost, and will be even more environmentally friendly, reducing waste.
However, there is a valid question future owners may have: How fixable is this new frame design in the event of a major accident? As it turns out, Tesla planned for this. According to Musk, the crash absorption rails can be cut and replaced with a bolted part for collision repair.
The crash absorption rails can be cut off & replaced with a bolted part for collision repair— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 7, 2020
Tesla engineers its cars the be the world's safest (see Tesla Vehicle Safety Report). It espouses this value not only through its cutting-edge software technology, such Autopilot and Active Safety assistance, but also through the frank, structural engineering of its vehicles. And while Tesla vehicles are less likely to be involved in accidents--and passengers are safer if involved in one--it is not surprising that Tesla thought ahead, providing reasonable solutions for potential frame repair.
Any one of Tesla's engineering feats would be truly impressive--whether it be safety, performance, range, software, or manufacturing. Yet, perhaps what is most astonishing is that the company was able to pack all of this into each and every car it builds--and still produce a product people really love. And a product they can continue to love for a very long time.
© 2020, Eva Fox. All rights reserved.
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