Ford CEO: “We Have Driven The Model S, Torn It Down, Put It Back Together And Driven It Again”

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 32

Tesla Model S Battery Pack

Tesla Model S Battery Pack

Tesla Model S Being Assembled

Tesla Model S Being Assembled

This past Friday, during Ford’s Q3 earnings call, Ford CEO Mark Fields was asked whether or not the automaker had obtained a Tesla Model S.  Fields could’ve shrugged off the question, but instead he confirmed that the automaker did indeed have a Model S in its possession:

“We have driven the Model S, torn it down, put it back together, and driven it again.  We’re very familiar with that product.”

That’s basically all that Fields stated on the topic, but this alone confirms that Ford at least has some level of interest in the technology behind the Tesla badge.

Of course, teardowns of competing models is nothing new in the auto industry.  However, it’s not often that a CEO comes out to admit the occurrence.

The IHS has a Tesla Model S teardown in progress, so even if an automaker can’t or chooses not to obtain a Model S, they can get all the nitty-gritty details on the electric sedan through the IHS here.

If you were to conduct a Tesla teardown, what aspects of the car would you be most focused on?

Source: Business Insider

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32 responses to "Ford CEO: “We Have Driven The Model S, Torn It Down, Put It Back Together And Driven It Again”"

  1. If a Chinese company did it, politicians would line up for populistic outcries.

    1. TJ10 says:

      Why? Competitive benchmarking is a common practice around the world in most industries.

      1. Smeghead says:

        Because politicians tend to be hypocritical like that.

  2. Lustuccc says:

    Hey Ford! Never mind Tesla.

    Just roll out 1 million Focus EV a year and lower the way too high price tag.

    Then maybe we will believe in your good will…

    1. Lou Grinzo says:

      I strongly agree.

      It’s oh-so-easy for CEOs to claim they’re doing Big Things in specific areas, like EVs, sustainability, etc., but when their actions don’t match their words, I think we all know which one to believe.

    2. Bloggin says:

      Bad idea. Here is why……

      As good as the Focus Electric is, it was/is a 1st gen retrofit EV, using a heavy ICE platform, with an expensive third party Magna drivetrain and even more expensive LG Chem battery cells and battery pack.

      Which is why there have been, won’t be any enhancements/updates to the drivetrain or battery pack until Ford launched their next gen EV, with Panasonic battery cells(like Energi models and Tesla packs), and a lightweight platform that can contain the battery pack.

      Focus Electric battery pack build has already been brought back in-house for the 2015 model year.

      So trying to flood the market with the current gen model is a bad idea, it’s when the new 2nd gen model is launched, is when the push will begin.

      1. Lustuccc says:

        Just roll out 1 million Focus EV a year with an improved battery pack!?!

    3. Spec says:

      Well . . . they DID lower the price tag.

      At $29K, the Ford Focus EV is pretty compelling. Add a DC fast-charge port and it will be a great car.

      And addition to DC-fast-charge, then add an option for a larger battery and they’ll have a HUGE hit hid.

  3. Anton Wahlman says:

    Almost every automaker have of course done a teardown analysis of the Model S — just like they do teardown analyses of every car in the market. Duh! And almost all of these companies will have a 200 mile EV of some sort in the market by 2017.

  4. Tom Moloughney says:

    Every automaker did this. It’s common practice actually and most all of the major OEM’s simply give each other whatever car they ask for because they also return the favor.

    BMW and Daimler just automatically ship each a copy other every model they make as a courtesy. I remember a BMW engineer telling me that since Tesla is a new automaker and can’t just give everybody their cars they had to buy two Model S cars. They took delivery way back when the Model S just launched. They kept one for road testing and did a complete teardown of the other.

    Everybody in the industry does this, especially with new cars that are considered cutting edge.

    1. e-lectric says:

      I would say Prius tear down has had, and will continue to have a much bigger impact on the industry than the M-S.

      1. Jouni Valkonen says:

        I think that Toyota Prius will be left in history as erroneous side step that produced small improved fuel efficiency with trade-off of greatly increased cost and complexity. But it failed to deliver better car and most importantly, it failed to deliver real solutions for the sustainable transportation.

        What Toyota Prius did, was mostly that it pushed away the focus of the development of technology from electric cars as the only real long term solution and therefore delayed the electric car relevolution by several years.

        And if Tesla was not here to correct the mistakes of other auto industry, the damage done by Toyota Prius would had been far greater and electric car revolution would had been delayed by a decade or more.

        Therefore retrospectively I would judge Toyota Prius as the biggest blunder in automotive industry ever.

        1. mpgood says:

          I disagree. I drive a Volt and I think the Model S is the best car out there. That said the Prius has pushed the boundaries of fuel efficiency and gave people an option for a very efficient car. And this was at a time when other car companies focused on gas-guzzling SUVs. I think that the three most import cars in history are the Ford Model T, Toyota Prius and the Tesla Model S.

          1. Foo says:

            Pushed the boundaries of gas mileage? I seem to recall the Geo Metro getting better gas mileage — a decade before the Prius. Also, the Honda Insight beat the Prius to market back in 2000, and with better gas mileage than the current model Prius gets.

            I agree with Jouni. As a chapter of history, all the Prius has done is delay the mass adoption of “real” electric vehicle technology. It has provided a way to keep the “green-minded” public at the teet of the oil and traditional automotive industries, while lulling them into the delusion that they are being “super” efficient when, in actuality, they are being marginally more efficient.

            Drive a hybrid, and you reduce your overall (well to wheels) energy usage by maybe 10% versus a non-hybrid (sure, the car may be more efficient than this, but all the same energy is consumed by the massive support system — drilling, refining, and transporting gasoline to your gas station’s doorstep). Drive electric, and you slash your overall energy usage by, perhaps, even an order of magnitude.

            And, Toyota is making the same mistake again, putting their support and efforts behind fuel-cell vehicles. Again, different fuel, same teet.

            1. Dave K. says:

              The Toyota Prius is a great car, comparing it to a Geo metro is silly. And until we have 150kw DC fast charging all over the world and every EV has a 200 mile battery we will need cars that run on liquid fuel. Right now it’s hard to beat the Prius. Most people that critisize it have never driven one. I personally own a Leaf and a Prius so I should know, both great cars, each has it’s own place.

              1. Foo says:

                I never said the Prius was not a “good” car, nor directly compared it “as a car” to the Geo Metro. I simply challenged the earlier poster’s notion that Toyota alone has “pushed the boundaries” of gasoline mileage. That’s absurd. There were cars that significantly pre-dated the Prius that pushed the boundaries just the same, if not more, on a gas mileage basis. Without its electric motor, the Prius is no more efficient (as an ICE) than these vehicles.

                In any case, I still contend that Prii are only marginally more efficient than driving a regular ICE. They still burn oil, they still pollute, and they still keep their owners hooked on sending profits to regions of the world that endanger our national security. In the grand scheme, I believe hybrids will be looked back upon as a stop-gap that actually hindered the mass adoption of electric vehicles.

                Indeed, some of the hybrids on the market are absolute jokes… getting only a few miles more per gallon than the non-hybrid version of the same car, or other similar ICE vehicles. The are “feel good” hybrids that, again, lull their owners into thinking that they are “making a difference”.

      2. Peter g says:

        Ford probably did a Prius tear down. 15 years ago when the car first came out. Not much has changed since.

    2. Leptoquark says:

      I just wonder how high up the BMW engineer ranks the Model S has made it for “extended road testing”. My guess is the boss volunteered for that duty…..

  5. EVer says:

    Ok

    the Model S alone is better than every car Ford has ever made

    they cannot make a car similar to the Model S

    rofl

  6. Mark says:

    I wonder if the number of competitor cars Tesla has torn apart is zero?

    1. EVerywhere says:

      Lotus Elise?

    2. leaf owner says:

      I doubt it. Tesla needed to learn a lot about the inner workings of cars — which the traditional auto makers do very well. They got the drive train down pretty well though….

  7. Anon says:

    If Ford says they can handle making a “Tesla-like car”, then it’s really their burden to prove it tp consumers in the automotive marketplace…

    After looking at the Ford Focus Electric, cramming an EV drivetrain and batteries into an ICE vehicle– isn’t the way to make a compelling, 200+ range vehicle with lots of cargo space…

    A Tesla, the FFE, is not. Make something that isn’t a mere compliance BEV for ZEV credits, and I’ll believe you.

  8. Ash09 says:

    Well, Tesla did release their patents too. I’m hoping that this means other carmakers will make more reliable, longer ranged, and faster charging electric vehicles in the long run.

    They’ll probably just use Tesla’s patents too, and then buy their batteries, because why spend billions to research it yourself when someone else already did the work and did a better job at it than you probably would on your own? Look at the range of EV’s other carmakers have right now, and you can see what I mean.

    And that’s where the Gigafactory will come in handy to help bring the cost down through economies of scale.

    Long term, this may mean EV’s will be competitively priced with gas cars, and will be just as reliable and travel just as far, and not require a lengthy “fill up” or recharge time.

  9. bennyd says:

    Here’s one of the best interviews with Elon Musk I’ve seen so far. His open source thinking on the automotive industry will make you realize how small the rest of the industry has been thinking.
    Enjoy,
    http://webcast.amps.ms.mit.edu/fall2014/AeroAstro/index-Fri-PM.html

    1. Anon says:

      Great link, thanks for sharing. 🙂

    2. Jouni Valkonen says:

      +1

  10. Murrysville EV says:

    The technology formula for making an EV is pretty straight-forward. The kWh stored vs the weight vs the power output vs efficiency vs cost are all well-known variables.

    There aren’t many secrets left regarding the Tesla Model S, except how a company can summon the guts to build such a car.

    Ford is merely curious; they have no intention of seriously competing in the EV market. However, manufacturability plays a big role in an EV; Tesla’s ability to reliably join some 7000 18650 cells in harmony is impressive.

    1. Tech01x says:

      Well, the secrets are not in the areas that traditional auto makers have significant expertise. For example, there are a significant amount of research and tuning that goes into the battery chemistry and electrolyte additives. Further, the battery management system with thermal management with heating, cooling, and charge and discharge curves. Or fine tuned motor control of AC induction motors for traction control, efficiency, and the right “feel” of regenerative braking.

  11. John says:

    I am hoping Tesla takes apart a Ford Focus Electric. We had a Model S in the shop for just over a week. I drove it out in the morning, turned it off, locked it up, and drove it back in the shop 11 hours later and it lost about 4-5 miles of range during that time. When I drove it in the shop at night and took it out in the morning it lost another 4-5 miles range. Everyday it did this. I went on a 6 day trip, wrote down the miles range on my Focus Electric, unplugged it, and when I came back it had lost no miles of range. Tesla is good, the best, but it still has things to learn from Ford and Magna.

    1. Incredulocious says:

      Note however, that it is not the Tesla drivetrain that causes this vampire draw on stored battery energy. The RAV4 (with the same battery and motor) does not do this. The vampire draw is due to the car’s various electronics systems that run while the car is ostensibly “turned off”, waiting for the approach of the key fob, waiting for cellular data requests, and (in the Model S only) managing the temperature state of the pack. Note the RAV4 does these other things without draining pack energy appreciably, the pack temperature is not maintained in the RAV4 when the car is “off”.

    2. Tesla has nothing to learn from Magna / Ford with their Focus EV conversion.

      The Model S could just as easily be setup like the Tesla powered RAV4 EV. But, Tesla knows that the cells stay healthier longer when “actively” kept cool.

      You notice some range decrease over time.