There’s More Crossover Between Tesla and SpaceX Than Most Realize

2 months ago by EVANNEX 16

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Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

HERE’S HOW TESLA USES ROCKET SCIENCE TO BEAT ITS RIVALS

One of the most respected Apple analysts, Gene Munster, now covers Tesla.

In a fascinating Bloomberg* report, Munster explained, “In this race to disrupt the world with both electric cars and autonomy as well as space, you don’t really work for Tesla or SpaceX. You just work for Elon Musk. You have the most wicked-smart people who can feed off of each other all working for Elon, and he can call on them to help crack various problems.”

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Bringing together the best of Tesla and SpaceX (Instagram: jaflebagamefotos)

Another Wall Street analyst with Robert W. Baird, Ben Kallo, explains: “SpaceX can contribute to what Tesla is doing. There’s a lot of crossover, and it gives Tesla a complete advantage over other automakers.”

Bloomberg also reports that analysts like Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas can’t help but wonder if a company that ultimately plans to build and launch its own satellites might have a leg up in the race for driverless cars, which will have to be connected to a vast wireless network. It’s an edge that other carmakers like General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. won’t have.

Elon Musk also addressed the unique synergies between SpaceX and Tesla on a recent earnings call:

“That’s cross-fertilization of knowledge from the rocket and space industry to auto back and forth, as I think it’s really been quite valuable.”

What’s a good example of this cross-company collaboration between SpaceX and Tesla? It turns out that engineers at Tesla found a quality problem earlier this summer with a cast aluminum auto part that was taking hours to diagnose and fix. They were stumped, so they called in the rocket scientists — literally.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman.

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Tesla benefits from its close relationship with SpaceX (Instagram: charlie_angulo_design)

Tesla’s engineers reached out to their counterparts at SpaceX, who recommended the use of ultrasound sensors to isolate the problem. The solution saved Tesla about eight hours of work per car, an eternity on an assembly line aiming to ramp up to mass-market volumes for Tesla’s new Model 3. A Tesla spokesperson explained, “Given that Tesla and SpaceX are totally non-competitive and have a similar first-principles approach to problem-solving, employees at one company are occasionally able to share ideas that help the other.”

Other synergies exist between the two companies. Software was developed jointly by SpaceX and Tesla to manage massive amounts of data at both companies. And both cars and rockets have to stay trim and light to get where they’re going, making material science another key area where the two companies collaborate. Therefore, the materials teams at both Space X and Tesla often hold joint meetings to discuss materials issues.

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Faux movie art of Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX / Tesla and his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Amber Heard (Source: oneksy)

“As an industrial community — whether it’s aerospace or automotive — everyone is grappling with increasing data management and the search for stronger, lighter, cheaper materials,” Luigi Peluso, an aerospace, and defense consultant at AlixPartners explained. “People who can master those skills can play in either domain pretty fluidly.”

Tesla has more than 33,000 employees and SpaceX has roughly 6,000 — giving Musk a vast talent pool to draw from in order gain a competitive advantage in each of their respective industries.  A Tesla spokesperson elaborated, “This [collaboration] hasn’t been a major thing, but it’s still always nice to be helpful, especially given the shared respect for each company’s mission… It’s not unusual to see people at Tesla gathered around their computers to cheer on SpaceX launches, and lots of SpaceX employees drive Teslas.”

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*Source: Bloomberg

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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16 responses to "There’s More Crossover Between Tesla and SpaceX Than Most Realize"

  1. theflew says:

    Articles like this are interesting, but the real insight is how Tesla is still in it’s infancy in the automotive world. It’s great they could use SpaceX engineers to help solve a problem. Where as in this case most legacy automakers have been using aluminum for decades from racing engines to door panels. So they have the tools and know how internally.

    Another is the Model 3’s use of mix materials in it’s frame – it was a big deal. Yet the Bolt does the same thing to a higher degree, but this wasn’t GM first use of the technology.

    It’s all about prospective.

    1. L'amata says:

      I heard that GM makes Rockets the shape of a Penis that Fly to outer space, drop off their payload and come back to land themselves erect and upright, too!!…l m a o….

    2. scott franco says:

      Or even perspective.

      1. Paul Smith says:

        That was very perceptive.

        1. Philip Reeve says:

          Touché. 👌

  2. Breezy says:

    I think Tesla has a tendency to discount the accumulated wisdom of a century of auto-manufacturing experience. A solution born of the highly-specialized rocket industry is not necessarily optimal for the mass production of a consumer product.

    There’s always room for improvement, but there are reasons the auto industry does certain things a certain way.

    Probably the most important for Tesla, is that the industry is notoriously conservative. Mostly this is a result of decades of being sued by their customers.

    The Model 3 is going to expose Tesla to a entirely new slice of consumers who aren’t going to give Tesla the benefit of the doubt. I hope Tesla’s ready.

    1. kbm3 says:

      Your hope is soon to be granted.

      Elon is the most brilliant CEO on the planet and Tesla is attracting some of the top talent in the world.

      This very staid industry is going to be disrupted from top to bottom.

    2. batarnak says:

      Maybe Tesla has a tendency to discount the accumulated wisdom of a century of auto-manufacturing experience because it’s (relatively) new to the game? They bring a whole “think-outside-of-the-box” approach.

      “A solution born of the highly-specialized rocket industry is not necessarily optimal for the mass production of a consumer product.”
      Agreed, though for example, SpaceX (very low error tolerance rocket) fabrication expertise can be used to solve Tesla “colleagues” challenges and vice versa, as stated in the article. Other applications surely exist. Just the possibility of discussing problems with outside brainiacs (either Tesla or SpaceX, depending) without fear of espionnage or competition can only have merits.

      “… but there are reasons the auto industry does certain things a certain way.”

      Like dealership networks? So everyone can have a slice at the paying customers’ expense?

      “Probably the most important for Tesla, is that the industry is notoriously conservative. Mostly this is a result of decades of being sued by their customers.”

      The auto industry also has decades of calculating whether or not to change a design, based on the amount they may get sued for for wrongful deaths.

      “The Model 3 is going to expose Tesla to a entirely new slice of consumers who aren’t going to give Tesla the benefit of the doubt. I hope Tesla’s ready.”
      Also true. But Teslas have a lot less parts (and moving parts) that can break down. They SHOULD be easier to maintain (Falcon wings excluded!! 🙂 ), and people will enjoy that. Not to mention latest techs implementation and the OTA updates…

      1. Jeffrey Spaulding says:

        “Maybe Tesla has a tendency to discount the accumulated wisdom of a century of auto-manufacturing experience because it’s (relatively) new to the game? They bring a whole “think-outside-of-the-box” approach.”

        One of the reasons why Tesla has been able to be so innovative is because they have discarded staid approaches to incremental improvement. By following a “physics first-principles” approach, they are able to make more radical changes in manufacturing.

        You can’t incrementally change a rocket to land vertically.

    3. stimpacker says:

      @Breezy
      You can keep going back to your dealer for fixes.
      If you want new features, go back to your dealer and buy a new car. Then you’ll have to negotiate and deal with dealer scams.

      That’s a century of auto-manufacturing wisdom for you.

      In the meantime, I’ll do nothing and benefit from OTA updates.

      1. batarnak says:

        I said not to mention OTA updates! 🙂 🙂

    4. Unplugged says:

      @Breezy –
      “the industry is notoriously conservative. Mostly this is a result of decades of being sued by their customers.”

      Yes! After all GM learned how to make ignition switches just so perfect that they figured out it was cheaper to be sued than to actually fix the things.

      And Toyota knew that building something as simple as floor mats could lead to lives lost and amazing acceleration.

      And don’t forget Takata, who cheaped out on airbags in order to kill hundreds of those customers. I guess being “conservative” really helped.

      1. 240Zracer says:

        The legacy makers are driven by the wrong mission statements: In every case it’s about meeting their expected Wall Street numbers and counting the beans, not engineering a good product for their customer and being rewarded for innovation. It’s about not taking risk.

        You can call it conservatism if you want; but, I think it’s stagnation. Stagnation is what you get when the bean-counters run the companies. Engineering visions are stifled by the needs to feed stockholder greed. You get short term profit and stilted growth instead of innovation and long term product improvement. I hope Tesla never succumbs to this M O and continues to drive the industry with their great visions of the transportation future.

  3. JR says:

    Wife use to say about our SAAB 9000 that it was one number less than a TANK!
    About our TESLA she says that it is a number less than a rocket, so this is not far from the truth!

  4. Steven says:

    We waited about fifty years for a movie about Preston Tucker, how long will we wait for one about Elon Musk?

  5. Priusmaniac says:

    Tesla will likely help in return when Space X start to produce the Raptor rocket engine in large numbers. Certain automobile chain production systems can be applied to increase rocket engine production rate.

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