Tesla’s “launch of the Model Y program” in China was kind of disappointing, but CEO Elon Musk did make an interesting comment teasing unannounced ‘advanced manufacturing technologies’ for the electric SUV.
As we reported yesterday, Tesla was expected to launch the Model Y program in China at the made-in-China Model 3 delivery event with Elon Musk.
The program indeed launched at the event today, however, the automaker didn’t reveal much about the plan to build the Model Y at Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai.
They simply announced the start of the program with comments from Chinese officials and later one of them and Musk poured some champagne on a big ‘Y’ sculpture.
Tesla didn’t elaborate on the timeline to build the vehicle at Gigafactory 3 in China, but the CEO did make an interesting comment about new manufacturing technologies being introduced with the Model Y program.
“Model Y will also have some advanced manufacturing technology that we will reveal in the future. I think it will be exciting to show the kind of manufacturing technology associated with the Model Y and it will be exciting to learn about these technologies.”
On its Chinese website, Tesla lists an estimated starting price of the Model Y at 444,000 yuan (~$64,000 USD), which is significantly more expensive than in the US.
However, the automaker says that official pricing is going to be announced later.
At the event today, Musk also announced plans for Tesla to design an electric car in China for the global market.
That’s particularly interesting in the context of Tesla’s original plans for Model Y.
For those who don’t remember, Elon originally wanted to build a new platform for the Model Y in order to make it easier to manufacture than the Model 3.
Later, the CEO said that his team convinced him to abandon the idea and use the same platform as Model 3 in order to bring the vehicle to production faster.
Tesla has since confirmed that Model Y and Model 3 share about 75% of their parts, but it sounds like the Model Y could still feature some important new manufacturing improvements despite being mostly based on Model 3.
Elon said that the new ‘advanced manufacturing technology’ is going to be revealed in the future, but we already might have a few ideas about what it could be.
In the past, Elon said that one of their biggest mistakes with their attempt at highly automating the production of the Model 3 was trying to automate tasks that humans are much better at than robots, like manipulating cables.
In order to facilitate the automation of manipulating cables, Tesla has been reducing the length of wiring harnesses in its vehicles.
Musk said that Model S has about 3 kilometers of wiring harnesses and Tesla brought it down to 1.5 kilometers in length for the Model 3.
But that’s just the beginning. Tesla has been working on a whole new wiring architecture for future vehicle platforms and they aim to bring it down to just 100 meters starting with the Model Y.
We reported on a patent filed by Tesla on the potentially revolutionary new wiring architecture to help robots build cars.
Also, Tesla has been working on a giant new machine to produce the Model Y frame in almost one piece.
It’s likely that those projects are part of the new manufacturing technologies to be introduced in the Model Y program.
It’s important to note that the new manufacturing improvements could likely also be introduced in the Model 3 program, which could result in a big efficiency improvement at Tesla.
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