Tesla is now using the announced one-piece rear frame in Model Y production in Fremont. Meanwhile, Tesla is planning the next steps for expansion in China.
For the Model Y rear frame, the part made with the giant “Giga Press” casting machine was discovered in a delivered vehicle in the USA. The huge die-casting machine in Fremont, which allows Tesla to manufacture the Model Y rear frame as a single part, was delivered back in the summer. Until this was possible, the Model Y had two metal beams and two connecting pieces. On the Model 3, there are still 70 components that have to be joined together to form the rear frame.
The fact that this machine or its products are now also being used in series production was not made public by Tesla itself, but by a customer: On the customer’s Model Y delivered shortly before Christmas, a buyer in the US discovered that the rear section of the frame consisted of only one part. A good portion of coincidence was also at play here: the customer allegedly wanted a workshop to install a sensor that would enable them to open the electric tailgate with a foot movement. They only noticed the innovation because trim parts in the trunk had to be removed for this work.
As Teslerati reports, the Model Y’s front frame from Chinese production could also be made from one part although this has not yet been confirmed. Series production is already underway, deliveries are expected to start before the end of January, after which the first examples will certainly be disassembled.
Until now, the Gigafactory in Shanghai was significantly expanded for Model Y production. According to Electrek, the next expansion is already on the horizon, and a new building is apparently going to be built on the east side. For this information, Elektrek has not referred to sources from the company, but to drone images dated 7 January 2021. Thus, it is not yet clear what function Tesla has planned for the new building. Since the final size cannot be reliably estimated at this stage, it is not yet clear whether it will be another assembly hall – but rumours that the announced Tesla compact car for $25,000 will be built in China starting in 2022 continue cropping up.
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Tesla is also looking to expand its presence in China on another front: As Reuters reports, the automaker has launched a new attempt to hire a design chief for China. This person is supposed to open and lead a design studio in Shanghai or Beijing and design the aforementioned compact car. According to the three sources quoted by Reuters, Tesla is said to have clear ideas about the new China design chief. The “bicultural” candidate should have 20 years or more of experience, be familiar with Chinese customers’ tastes and be able to bridge the gap between China and the US.
Elon Musk already announced that Tesla wanted to establish a design centre in China a year ago. The search was apparently paused for a while, after which, according to the latest information, the search via headhunters has been underway again since September most likely within China. Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen is said to have already held talks with several candidates. According to the report, as soon as the design chief for China has been found, Tesla wants to recruit a team of about 20 people. According to Reuters, it is most likely that no decision has been made yet because Tesla may want to wait until Joe Biden is sworn in as US president and US-Chinese relations have calmed down a bit.
Even without models designed specifically for China, Tesla is selling well there. According to figures from the Chinese Automobile Association, 23,804 MIC Model 3s were sold in December alone. That’s another ten per cent more than in November 2020, compared with just 12,143 in October. It is unclear, however, how the 23,804 Model 3s in December are distributed among the different powertrains: The Model 3 SR+ with LFP batteries has only been sold since October.
With reporting by Sebastian Schaal.
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