When it comes to Tesla, attention is usually focused on its production struggles, the latest actions of company founder Elon Musk or, from a technology perspective, its pure-electric powertrains. But with the Model 3, the firm is also aiming to pioneer a new approach to chassis and suspension design.
Tesla’s approach to designing those areas, which are crucial elements in defining a car’s character and desirability, didn’t follow usual automotive industry practice for volume car production. Autocar spoke exclusively with a number of Tesla engineers to gain an insight into that development process.
Most manufacturers these days build major new models from a platform or architecture, but when it came to the design of the Model 3’s chassis and suspension, Tesla engineer stuck with a ‘first principles’ clean-sheet approach. The starting point were the tyres, which Tesla describes as the unsung heroes of its cars and crucial to feel and drivability. Development started in 2015 and Tesla worked with tyre manufacturers for almost three years, which is longer than the time spent on the Model S’s tyres.