After Autonomy Day and Battery Day, Tesla has now also held its first in-depth Investor Day. At the company headquarters in Austin, Texas, the Master Plan 3 was discussed in more than three hours in the various BErecihen such as Design, Engineering, Electronikarchitektur, Software, Full Self Driving, Tesla Bot, Charging, Manufacturing, Energy, and the impact and financial impact.
All products (vehicles, charging stations, battery storage, Tesla Bot, factories) were discussed in terms of their contribution to reducing the CO2 footprint as well as cost reduction and efficiency improvements, and this path was shown from the early years at Tesla with the Model S to the future with a vehicle not yet unveiled but called the Next Gen Vehicle.
The goal of this Investor Day was not to unveil new products (the Next Gen Vehicle is to be unveiled at a separate event), but to show the many small details and approaches Tesla is taking across all domains to make processes more efficient and cost effective, while delivering better products and services.
Elon Musk kicked things off with Drew Baglinow, who went into detail about the Master Plan Part 3.
In the next part, Franz von Holzhausen and Lars Moravy talked about the vehicle design. It was particularly interesting to see how Tesla is completely rethinking the manufacturing process. Today, there are certain steps in which the car is assembled, which lead to long distances, sometimes long times without much work on the car itself, and even to the partial disassembly of the vehicle during production. One example given was painting, where the doors and hoods are assembled and then removed from the car after the paint bath.
This is now done quite differently, partly because the parts have been reduced thanks to such innovations as the Gigapress, which produces entire castings and thus saves hundreds of parts, and the components are already fully assembled separately and brought into the car as a finished product
For the drivetrain, a simulator was shown that can quickly go through thousands of iterations of the magnetic field between the stator and rotor to find the optimal solution, Also, some rare earths have been reduced to 0 for the next generation electric motor,
In terms of electronics architecture, the first thing talked about was the wiring harness, which had been simplified between the first Model S and the current Model 3, and its weight reduced by 17 kilograms. The Cybertruck will also use a 48V architecture for the entire on-board electronics for the first time.
Using accident data as an example, Tesla shows the difference between the requirement of various regulatory crash tests and real accidents. This has allowed Tesla to make improvements in the exact areas affected, leading to Tesla’s high ratings in crash tests. Such crash data can also be used to quickly make changes to the delivered cars via over-the-air updates (OTA). For example, software adjustments were made to the seat belts after it became apparent that they did not work optimally for certain body dimensions.
Of particular interest was how, during manufacturing, one of the first parts to be installed is the computer, which can then indicate exactly which parts have already been installed and whether they are working correctly. This advances the concept of an electric car as a smartphone on wheels by one level: the raw product is already a computer. All that’s missing are the robots that assemble this machine. And for service after delivery, the computer is also used to identify impending component faults and give the service mechanics a precise overview in advance and enable spare parts to be ordered.
Full Self Driving
In autonomous driving (FSD), Tesla showed off car labeling, which is intended to complement or completely replace manual, making it more scalable. Currently, Tesla has 30 petabytes of video data from the fleet delivered so far, with 200 petabytes expected soon.
Elon Musk showed some brief footage of the Tesla Bot and the progress so far. Like reaching hands and showing dexterity, and the bots also marching. Musk expects the robot to human ratio on Earth to be greater than 1:1. He thus also sees the Tesla Bot division as more valuable than the vehicle division in the future.
Tesla says its own charging stations are up to 75 percent cheaper than those from other manufacturers where Tesla has scaled production. Already prefabricated charging stations are just unloaded and plugged in. Tesla has also already opened more than 50 percent of its charging stations in Europe to other car brands, and the first 10 are now open in the U.S. as well. This includes the so-called “Magic Dock,” which means drivers don’t have to bring their own charging cables and adapters. In San Francisco again, almost 100 percent of the charging stations are powered by sustainably sourced energy.
The supply chain experienced disruptions during the pandemic, which was then replaced by capacity issues at the Port of Los Angeles and the subsequent chip crisis. Therefore, Tesla worked to streamline the supply chain to make it more stable and resilient. It also aims to make it more resilient by placing orders with two or even three suppliers. The production data show how well Tesla has succeeded in doing this. Tesla was the only automaker to maintain its growth rates, while all others shrank.
One interesting statement was also that Tesla uses four times as many semiconductors in its cars as typical internal combustion cars.
With only 4 car factories, Tesla has a production capacity of 2 million cars per year (while others need dozens). At the same time, Tesla has been able to reduce labor hours per vehicle and increase output. A car “tumbles” off the conveyor belt every 45 seconds. Tesla is targeting a total capacity of 20 million vehicles per year with additional factories, a tenfold increase from current capacity.
In the battery factories, the space requirement has decreased by 4/5 for the same output. This allows Tesla to produce battery cells so cheaply that they can even be used in storage for the power grid.
The factories themselves can be set up in less than a year; in Shanghai, for example, the time from groundbreaking to completion was 9.5 months.
And: Tesla produced its four millionth car this week.
With Australia, Tesla has an ideal test area where battery storage systems can be installed relatively quickly and new models can be tested. With the modular battery storage system, installation is four times faster than before, and owners of a Powerwall and PV system will even be paid if they supply electricity to the network. Tesla also uses Autobidder, which suggests the best price and time. Thanks to these solutions, the power grid will be stabilized more quickly than with previous solutions. While gas or coal-fired power plants can take up to 15 minutes to ramp up to meet excess demand, Tesla battery storage can do so in a fraction of a second.
Currently, Tesla has 129,000 employees, with more than half working in vehicle production. And Tesla remains an attractive employer. Last year, 3 million job seekers applied. Thanks to Tesla products, customers avoided 8.4 million tons of CO2. Tesla generated more energy with its products than all Tesla vehicles consumed.
The important thing here was that it was easy to reduce costs while making the product worse, but it would be hard to improve the product in the process. But that’s exactly what Tesla manages to do across all departments because they specifically look for opportunities to improve. They even go so far as to program Tesla’s own business software that is precisely tailored to themselves.
Here is the full recording (the presentations start at the 29:00 time mark):
This article was also published in German.