Check Out A Detailed Analysis Of That Tesla Model 3 Teardown

APR 28 2018 BY EVANNEX 25


Automakers depend on consulting firm Munro & Associates to give them detailed pictures of what their competitors are up to. Munro’s engineers perform “teardowns,” taking a new vehicle apart and analyzing every part in detail to determine how it was made, who made it (in-house or from an outside supplier) and approximately how much it cost. The firm recently bought two copies of the Tesla Model 3 and is in the process of extracting its secrets.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

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Above: Auto expert, Sandy Munro, dished out both harsh criticism and deep praise for the Tesla Model 3 (Image: The Street)

CEO Sandy Munro discusses his findings in a lengthy new video from Autoline (via Jalopnik), and anyone who’s interested in the technical details of EVs will find this one well worth watching all the way through. Munro’s knowledge of the mechanics of assembling automobiles is broad and deep, and he gives us a tour of Model 3’s innards in a lively and engaging style.

Munro describes a car with a “dual personality” – some aspects are really good, and some are really bad. In fact, he seems quite puzzled that one automaker can do such a great job on some components and fall so short in other areas.

As others have, Munro found that Model 3 suffers from poor build quality – panels that don’t line up properly, and in one case, a door liner that seems to have been installed backwards. He also claims to have received “hundreds, maybe a thousand” emails from owners complaining about similar fit-and-finish issues. He surmises that the problems stem from poorly trained assembly line workers and (as others have noted, and Elon Musk has admitted) too much and too-hasty automation. (To be fair, Munro and the Autoline panel acknowledge that Tesla is well aware of the fit-and-finish problems, and claims to be making steady improvements.)

Above: Sandy Munro discusses his company’s Tesla Model 3 teardown on Autoline Network’s Afterhours Show (Youtube: Autoline Network)

So much for the bad stuff. “But if you want to start talking about the good stuff on the Tesla…” Munro goes on to praise Model 3’s electronics and battery technology in the very highest terms. He shows off the car’s Automatic Drive Module, pointing out the impressive density of the chips on the circuit board, and comparing it to the kind of technology you’d find in military-grade hardware.

“The density of this population is like nobody’s got. Nobody. This is the technology we would see in really high-end computers…this is spectacular. Spectacular! Anybody that doesn’t look at the electronics on the Tesla is…in peril. This is not some Mickey Mouse outfit that you can just dismiss.”

Munro also heaped praise on the Tesla battery pack, noting its high power density, superb build quality and minimal current differential between cells. “Nobody can balance batteries that close. Nobody. Nobody’s ever done that.” Munro says that Korean suppliers LG and Samsung have long been considered the best in the battery business, but that the Model 3 pack “blows them both away.”

Above: Sandy Munro’s initial driving impressions of the Tesla Model 3 (Youtube: Autoline Network)

Sandy Munro also dug the car’s handling: “I was very impressed. This thing drives really well. When I wanted to go, it went. It felt balanced. There was no understeer, no oversteer, no nothing. It did exactly what I wanted it to do.”

Munro seems to see Tesla as a story of missed opportunity: the company has “revolutionary” technology, but its insistence on ignoring conventional auto-industry wisdom has led to production delays and problems with build quality. One of the Autoline panelists proposes a hypothetical situation in which Tesla brought in a manufacturing specialist such as Magna to assemble its cars. Munro thinks this would make Tesla an unstoppable force. “I think they would have hit every target, and I think that even Toyota would be basically crapping their pants.”

While Tesla has hurt itself by ignoring established auto manufacturing processes, the legacy automakers stand to be damaged even more if they ignore Tesla’s innovations in electronics and battery tech. “The guys that really need help are the Detroit boys,” Munro concludes. “Because this is going to kick their ass…this is wicked…We found components on here we never saw before.”

Above: Munro & Associates go deep inside a Tesla Model 3 (Image: Charged)

Of course, as Jalopnik points out, Munro would say that the Big Three and Tesla each need help building their automobiles – after all, help building automobiles is precisely what Munro & Associates has been selling for over thirty years.


Written by: Charles Morris; This article originally appeared in Charged; Source: Jalopnik

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

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25 Comments on "Check Out A Detailed Analysis Of That Tesla Model 3 Teardown"

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So they can build computers and batteries but can’t figure out how to build a car…

Early VIN. Not professional to not look at a later VIN for validation of your “theory”.

In fact, the vehicle came before December. It is thought that it was one of those that was mostly hand built.

Evannex I hate to tell you this is just an Nvidia board that anyone could purchase. Tesla had little to nothing to do with the design.

Evannex is just quoting Munro here. Munro has not been able to know who made the PCB, but thinks it is Tesla and not nVidia.

There is another ‘slice of life’ delivery (and comments on those particular individual deliveries) on TMC this week.

These eyes see the Service Centers getting much more behind Schedule than they are now, unless something changes.

The one curious condition was the new owner got some sort of a ‘regen problem’ message, and then when getting home found the car was making some unspecified noises. Overnight – the car went from around 180 mile range to the high 90’s (what they are calling Monster Vampire Drain), but I chauk it up to the car trying to do something, and using more than the normal amount of electricity to do it.

I wish there was a way to block articles by EVANNEX from showing up in this feed. Sorta like how I block FOX NEWS from showing up in my DVR’s guide listing.

Criticize EVANNEX and the site gods remove the comments. Paid sponsors. I would prefer if it was marked as such. I’d much rather read an article from EVANNEX on their products and perhaps video with it showing installation/work being done.

EVANNEX are not paid sponsors. If they were, we would disclose that. That’s how we function. We also won’t be promoting their products since they’re not a paid sponsor. We don’t produce content for paid sponsors. We do make it very clear that the articles are authored by EVANNEX and also provide two disclaimers in each piece. We have a vast network of readers that read the content, so we aren’t going to eliminate it. Our commenters make up about half of one percent of our overall traffic base. A huge percentage of our readers that don’t choose to comment happen to read the EVANNEX content on a daily basis. If you don’t want to read it, you don’t have to. There are plenty of other articles for multiple interests. I hope that makes sense. Pieces like these create a traffic boost that keeps our site alive, able to function, and able to continue posting less popular stories that we know another portion of our readership also appreciates.

The ‘articles’ are horribly written with minimal facts and completely one sided. And regularly anyone who even hints at the quality of them has their comments removed in some kind of ridiculous Trumpian thin skinned behavior. They are embarrassingly bad.

As I explained before, a significant portion of our traffic reads them daily, so we can’t remove them. We provide a disclaimer saying the opinions aren’t ours. They are obviously a Tesla-centric company. The writing is not bad writing, although the opinions and information may not be something you agree with or approve of. The writing itself, in terms of grammar and form, matches what is expected for the style of internet writing needed to appeal to Google and a wider audience. We don’t remove the comments. If someone puts comments about bad authors, click bait, etc., the filter throws them out. If you don’t find them appropriate, you have the choice to not read them. The crazy thing is that people complain about them, but still read them enough to be able to comment on the writing, facts, details, etc. I’m sorry that these pieces are not for you, but hopefully, there are others on our site that are or you wouldn’t be here. These articles are for a different group of people, and we have to appeal to them as well. That’s why we offer a huge variety on a daily basis. Thanks for your input. Perhaps we… Read more »

As a former VLSI guy, I can state that this Monro guy is completely clueless about electronics.
0) “population density” is not a term anyone in the electronics uses.
1) The density of the shown PCB is pretty average for medium-scale PCBs, and very low for computerized consumer gear like desktops, laptops,phones etc.
2) Higher density is NOT necessarily a good thing, rather, usually the reverse. All else being equal, a less dense PCB is easier to cool, making it much more reliable over time (key issue in variable environmental conditions, like automotive) and costs pretty much the same to build. Rule of thumb for electronics:
The reason dense PCBs are common in consumer gear is simply that small size is a goal. In a car, there’s no lack of space for a slightly larger PCB.

The density of the chip gives significant performance boost.
Especially if everything is packages into one large chip.

If you’re actually in the field you know “System on Chip”‘s are actually the fastest solutions.

The “expert” in the video was talking about inter-component packing, not chip-level transistor count or silicon fab process.
Did you notice my “all else being equal “qualification? Yes, of course the length of traces affects signal propagation speed (this started being a problem in the early 1980s, which is why Cray’s fastest computers were cube shaped; it provided the overall shortest signal paths).
However, there are multiple tradeoffs involved. Packing everything into one large chip makes it expensive since a single defect can make the entire chip unusable, and defects are proportional to silicon die area.
The trick is to make the overall solution the least dense you can that still fits the desired parameters, including performance envelope, thermal characteristics and cost.
Cooling is a huge issue in cars. Even if you use active cooling, the failure of a $4 fan will make the car stop in its tracks. If it’s possible to get by with passive cooling like a large heatsink, it’s highly preferable.

“The reason dense PCBs are common in consumer gear is simply that small size is a goal.”

I seriously question the opinion of someone who claims to have experience in computer circuit boards, but doesn’t even know that the goal of making chips smaller, and crowding them closer together on a board, is to allow the electronic systems to run faster, as well as requiring less energy to operate. There are rather large advantages to making everything physically smaller.

If you don’t know those pretty basic facts about computer chips and circuit boards, then you don’t know nearly as much as you think you do.

I do know that, but did you not notice “all else being equal?” Small size isn’t a goal in itself in automotive apps, unlike cell phones, spying gear etc.

The board has goals defined in advance for performance envelope, thermal envelope, cost and reliability.

The “expert” in the video made it sound like the smaller, necessarily the better.
Nope. Making the total solution smaller than it has to be makes it harder to cool, not a good thing for an embedded PCB which needs to function in 45C ambient temps.

Wavelet, if you are intimately familiar with Very Large Scale Integration, you are miles ahead of Pushi….
The main Point for Pushi is – these very STANDARDIZED boards made by Nvidia and just slightly private labeled for Tesla are shoe horned by tesla into an available space, same as any other car manufacturer – an EASY job for any car manufacturer as you’ve already repeatedly stated.

Occasionally Pushi will make a comment showing just how clueless he is. He has no idea when it is important to save space at all costs, or just allow something to be a bit more normal sized. Terms like Thermal Envelope mean nothing to him, but reliability should have some meaning to anyone who has paid cash for something, yet he doesn’t realize that heat is a big enemy, and sometimes leisurely spacing can intrinsically solve an otherwise troublesome issue.

Exactly Wavelet – its common knowledge Nvidia is making megaflops boards for autonomous driving features.

I wouldn’t trust anything this guy says about anything electrical. Besides his downright silly multiple gushes over an Nvidia ‘private Tesla Label’ board, he also is super impressed with a simple permanent magnet motor – of which TESLA is the absolute LAST production car to have one. Now Induction machines are ok, as the “S” and “X” still use them. But the chevy volt beat tesla by about 7 years, and the Nissan Leaf 6 years. Of course, no one ever heard of those cars (over at MUNRO Associates, at least)… The Leaf has been the best selling EV period world wide for a few years.

Very nice video. I hope Tesla hires Munro or someone like him to improve what ever needs improving.

Munro seems a straight shooter. However heavy the “body on (in?) white” is, Model 3’s overall weight compares with a lot of regular ICE cars. He was more critical of unnecessary extra work, than poor work.

Ok is this normal? I had many cars before Germans for the most part and I had never read this way of scrutinize a car, I think the bad blood against Tesla is unbelievable, I just don’t think is normal, perhaps some industries are behind it.

There is a reason many car companies choose another board layout, with different components, and that is because of the life that board will have to make it through. Heat, cold, shakes and bumbs for a decade or two. BTW I’ve seen similar boards on MB, BMW, Lexus and so on in their cars – but very modular (they use several smaller boards, and with connectors for autotesting). They have worked with more and more integration from one model to another. To use a larger main board will be cheaper to make, and probably assemble – but may in some cases make it harder to share boards among different car models, and sub brands. Electronics are always getting cheaper to make, and will probably end up with a master main board used in all models, and software will activate the funcrions you pay for, just like they do in some electronics products now. With rising complexity of car electronics, it is less profitable to repair advanced (and simple) circuit boards. Due to lack of equipment, skill and management that is very focused on replacing parts, instead of repairing on a component level. Advanced boards will cost a lot as a… Read more »

A number of things wrong here.
Musk is attempting something that was last done back in the 70s.
He is trying to automate the daylights out of manufacturing.
This is not an easy thing to accomplish. As such, he is going to have issues.
Instead, the lessons learned on roadster, MS, MX, and now M3 are applied to the next vehicle.
Elon wants to redo MY in a simpler fashion. He has that right. Now, that he knows a great deal more about automation, I am expecting the MY to go up a great deal faster.