Currently reading: Tesla plots Model 3 hatchback to rival Volkswagen ID 3
New production process could allow for cheaper Model 3 relative to arrive in 2021
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3 mins read
25 August 2020

Tesla is looking to continue its global push for volume and usurp the efforts of ‘legacy’ car makers with a more affordable compact hatchback model, according to boss Elon Musk.

It is believed that the new car, aimed primarily at Europe, would be a restyled and adapted version of the existing Model 3 – and it could be produced beside the saloon at the US firm’s new plant near Berlin, Germany.

Speaking to investors and analysts on a recent conference call, Musk stressed that “we will not succeed in our mission if we don’t make cars affordable”, adding: “The thing that bugs me the most about where we are right now is that our cars aren’t affordable enough. We need to fix that”.

While not revealing specifics, in order to keep future Tesla product launches as surprising as possible, Musk confirmed that “it would be reasonable to assume that we would make a compact vehicle of some kind and probably a higher-capacity vehicle of some kind”.

Although likely to be some way off – given that Tesla still has to start production of its Semi lorry, Roadster supercar and Cybertruck pick-up – a more affordable model than the Model 3 will be crucial to ensure that the brand can compete on real terms with the new Volkswagen ID 3 and Peugeot e-208 hatchbacks.

The former will eventually start from around £27,500 for the entry-level 45kWh model, while the cheapest Model 3 available in the UK today costs £43,490 (both prices are before the UK government’s £3000 grant for electric cars).

It is believed that Tesla’s German factory, which is due to be completed and begin operations in July 2021, could be the catalyst for a smaller, cheaper model, thanks to what Musk describes as a “revolution in automotive body engineering”: a giant aluminium casting machine.

Considered a first in the mass-production industry, with Tesla applying to patent the design last year, the machine hugely simplifies the process of assembling a unibody frame, which is traditionally done by folding, welding and gluing together multiple panels and parts.

Musk claimed the process, already used at Tesla’s plant in California for the Model Y SUV, reduces the individual parts of the car’s frame from 70 to just two, making it both cheaper and far simpler to produce.

The new machine and the resulting stiffness of the car’s structure would in theory easily allow a classic compact-hatchback-style rear end to be applied to the Model 3.

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While that would be a major factor in reducing build costs to the necessary level for an ID 3 rival, it’s likely that Tesla would also have to reduce the performance and range capability of the Model 3’s powertrain for a hatchback.

With the slowest Model 3 still managing 0-60mph in just 5.3sec, there’s plenty of scope for reducing performance and still beating hatchback rivals. But it remains to be seen if a smaller model would also receive a reduction in battery size from the 50kWh pack of the basic Model 3, which is capable of 254 miles on a charge under the WLTP test procedure. Given the battery pack represents anything up to three-quarters of the cost of a new EV, a reduction is likely.

Another question concerns the naming. Musk has hinted before that he wants to move away from the current ‘S3XY’ naming convention of Tesla’s models, but the new direction is as yet unclear.

A natural progression would be to call the compact hatchback the Model 2 to designate its position below the Model 3 in Tesla’s range.

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Comments
30

25 August 2020

With cars being formed using a 'giant aluminium casting machine' how does that work when a car might need, for example, a new wing, etc? as you can't simply replace the wing, right?And, then, how would that affect insurance? Would it make those cars harder to insure? Interesting idea but just wondering how it all works in practice.

25 August 2020
Rods wrote:

With cars being formed using a 'giant aluminium casting machine' how does that work when a car might need, for example, a new wing, etc? as you can't simply replace the wing, right?And, then, how would that affect insurance? Would it make those cars harder to insure? Interesting idea but just wondering how it all works in practice.

The individual body panels on the exterior of the cars will remain the same - The giant casting machine is referring to the construction of the cars' internal frame. Something which is normally made up of over 100 peices and very costly to produce. Only a huge accident will damage the frame - But all cars will be a write-off with that much damage. 

 

The Cybertruck on the other hand is more like what you mentioned, becasue it uses its outer body as an exoskeleton chassis (Using incredibly strong 30x Rolled Stainless steel). Will be interesting to see how they overcome some of the design limitations from that production method. 

25 August 2020
Sonic wrote:

 The individual body panels on the exterior of the cars will remain the same - The giant casting machine is referring to the construction of the cars' internal frame. Something which is normally made up of over 100 peices and very costly to produce. Only a huge accident will damage the frame - But all cars will be a write-off with that much damage. 

Interesting - thanks for that info, Sonic! I think I took the image in the story too literally :)

25 August 2020
Sonic wrote:

Rods wrote:

With cars being formed using a 'giant aluminium casting machine' how does that work when a car might need, for example, a new wing, etc? as you can't simply replace the wing, right?And, then, how would that affect insurance? Would it make those cars harder to insure? Interesting idea but just wondering how it all works in practice.

The individual body panels on the exterior of the cars will remain the same - The giant casting machine is referring to the construction of the cars' internal frame. Something which is normally made up of over 100 peices and very costly to produce. Only a huge accident will damage the frame - But all cars will be a write-off with that much damage. 

 

The Cybertruck on the other hand is more like what you mentioned, becasue it uses its outer body as an exoskeleton chassis (Using incredibly strong 30x Rolled Stainless steel). Will be interesting to see how they overcome some of the design limitations from that production method. 

It's going to have to be some casting machine! The monocoque is a relatively low cost part of the vehicle platform, as a guide it represents approximately 7-19% of the total vehicle cost and it's unlikley big enough savings will be found to make a significant saving to drastically alter the final cost of the product.  There will be a time saving in terms of assembling the component, if it's already 'cast' then it doesn't have to assembled, but it's doubtful the cost of casting with outweigh the cost of assembling.  With a BEV the biggest cost is and will remain for sometime the battery pack, that can represent anywhere from 35- 50%.  The only way to reduce that cost is to reduce size. 

25 August 2020
Marc wrote:

Sonic wrote:

Rods wrote:

With cars being formed using a 'giant aluminium casting machine' how does that work when a car might need, for example, a new wing, etc? as you can't simply replace the wing, right?And, then, how would that affect insurance? Would it make those cars harder to insure? Interesting idea but just wondering how it all works in practice.

The individual body panels on the exterior of the cars will remain the same - The giant casting machine is referring to the construction of the cars' internal frame. Something which is normally made up of over 100 peices and very costly to produce. Only a huge accident will damage the frame - But all cars will be a write-off with that much damage. 

 

The Cybertruck on the other hand is more like what you mentioned, becasue it uses its outer body as an exoskeleton chassis (Using incredibly strong 30x Rolled Stainless steel). Will be interesting to see how they overcome some of the design limitations from that production method. 

It's going to have to be some casting machine! The monocoque is a relatively low cost part of the vehicle platform, as a guide it represents approximately 7-19% of the total vehicle cost and it's unlikley big enough savings will be found to make a significant saving to drastically alter the final cost of the product.  There will be a time saving in terms of assembling the component, if it's already 'cast' then it doesn't have to assembled, but it's doubtful the cost of casting with outweigh the cost of assembling.  With a BEV the biggest cost is and will remain for sometime the battery pack, that can represent anywhere from 35- 50%.  The only way to reduce that cost is to reduce size. 

19% of a vehicle that has a retail value of 35k is quite alot actually, especially in these money pinching days.

25 August 2020
xxxx wrote:

Marc wrote:

Sonic wrote:

Rods wrote:

With cars being formed using a 'giant aluminium casting machine' how does that work when a car might need, for example, a new wing, etc? as you can't simply replace the wing, right?And, then, how would that affect insurance? Would it make those cars harder to insure? Interesting idea but just wondering how it all works in practice.

The individual body panels on the exterior of the cars will remain the same - The giant casting machine is referring to the construction of the cars' internal frame. Something which is normally made up of over 100 peices and very costly to produce. Only a huge accident will damage the frame - But all cars will be a write-off with that much damage. 

 

The Cybertruck on the other hand is more like what you mentioned, becasue it uses its outer body as an exoskeleton chassis (Using incredibly strong 30x Rolled Stainless steel). Will be interesting to see how they overcome some of the design limitations from that production method. 

It's going to have to be some casting machine! The monocoque is a relatively low cost part of the vehicle platform, as a guide it represents approximately 7-19% of the total vehicle cost and it's unlikley big enough savings will be found to make a significant saving to drastically alter the final cost of the product.  There will be a time saving in terms of assembling the component, if it's already 'cast' then it doesn't have to assembled, but it's doubtful the cost of casting with outweigh the cost of assembling.  With a BEV the biggest cost is and will remain for sometime the battery pack, that can represent anywhere from 35- 50%.  The only way to reduce that cost is to reduce size. 

19% of a vehicle that has a retail value of 35k is quite alot actually, especially in these money pinching days.

That's a general figure, it's very unlikely to be that high for this type of vehicle platform, more toward the lower end of the scale. 

As a guide for a BEV platform,

Energy storage 35-50%, although this cost element is continually reducing, Tesla reputedly have some of the lowest cost per/KWH 

Chassis 3-7 %

Monocoque & body 7-19%

Drivetrain 10-20% made up of motor/s, inverter, charger and transmissions

Equipment 10-25%

Other costs 5% +/-

 

 

 

TS7

25 August 2020

..and then the next one could be 'F'...

25 August 2020
TS7 wrote:

..and then the next one could be 'F'...

25 August 2020

Hyundai already make a car for 30k. 

25 August 2020
But it's doubtful Hyundai make any profits on it

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