Model 3 Supplier Says Tesla Is A Demanding Customer, Engineers Are Perfectionists

SEP 27 2016 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 48

Fuji Technica & Miyazu Employee Performs Manual Finishing

Fuji Technica & Miyazu Employee Performs Manual Finishing

A recent Nikkei article states:

“Fuji Technica & Miyazu, in Shimizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, is a key supplier, teammate, really, of Tesla Motors.”

Fuji Technica is an aluminum die maker for Tesla and Nikkei recently dropped by to ask the company a few questions. According to the Nikkei, a Tesla Model S frame was on display, and is the pride of the factory workers…we hear.

Nikkei adds:

“The engineers are indeed proud of the results of their efforts but they are equally proud of their collaborative back-and-forths with their peers from Tesla…”

But what’s more interesting is that Fuji Technica is producing dies for the Model 3.

“Fuji Technica representatives say Tesla is a demanding customer, insisting, for example, on retaining a smooth curve on an outer panel regardless of the difficulty it might give the die-maker.”

“Fuji Technica & Miyazu developed the dies that shape body parts of Tesla Motors’ Model 3.”

Demanding customer or not, Fuji Technica considers its relationship as “good” and says that Tesla’s engineers are perfectionists.

But for Fuji Technica, Tesla is a savior, bringing the sinking company out of the red and putting it back into the spotlight as one of the world’s premier die makers.

Source: Nikkei

Categories: Tesla

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48 Comments on "Model 3 Supplier Says Tesla Is A Demanding Customer, Engineers Are Perfectionists"

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So does this mean that the M≡ will have an aluminum body?

+1

Previous reports pretty clearly stated that the Model ≡ will have a mostly steel body, with much less use of aluminum, as a cost-saving measure.

I’d be wary of giving too much weight to the statements from this company, which seem to be nothing more than patting themselves on the back.

If you read the article, they have steel dies too. So having a die does not really tell you if it is aluminum or steel.

Haha, “perfectionists”. I’d say automotive technology should be as reliable as possible…just saying.

Good, glad to hear they’re demanding perfectionists.

great video. an engineer is not normal. which is good. Most want to improve and fix everything.

Don’t forget creative. Any 2 year old could throw around a bucket of paint, but it takes engineers to create “state of the art” using the canvas of science.

A quote in this article says:

“Fuji Technica & Miyazu, in Shimizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, is a key supplier, teammate, really, of Tesla Motors.”

Reminds me of the proverb:

“Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan.”

Engineering is all about balancing quality, cost and schedule.

Nope!?

I assume you’re not an engineer. Or at least not a good one.

+1

This kind of “gold plating, perfect is the enemy of good” is what brought us the delays with the Model S and X. Mass market, quick-to-market cars need to be engineered in order to be built with standard manufacturing tools that are reliable and readily available.

Perfect for perfections sake is called “making jewelry”. Something that is engineered properly should do the job at task for the duration specified and then completely fail all at once.

Of course, “should…fail all at once” implies that you can save incremental cost or schedule by barely making the design reliability requirements. In reality, physical products fail according to a statistical distribution (usually Weibull). Google “bathtub curve”. The lowest cost (both non-recurring and recurring) occurs when you build in design margin.

(Engineer since 1983).

If you wnat to compete in europe you have to compete with european level of finish. I would say they are going the right way. Teslas has a bad reputation for the finish, its not up to german/swedish standard. But overall its a good car and people explain as well, its american. We cant expect perfection from them…

Breezy, great point. This is called the “triple constraint” (a Project Management term).

Yup. Or as I like to say it:

I can make it fast, or I can make it good, or I can make it cheap. Pick any 2. Or if you want to be a jerk about it, pick 1.

*grin*

By the looks of the picture of the die’s front Qtr panel…. should cost about $15-20k LH/RH. If the qtr panel is 5051AL then the part should be ~$15-20 bucks ea.

Well, yeah, they’re proud of involvement with Model S. The environment isn’t as politicized in China, there’ coal dust, there’s masks. They see the importance of alternatives.

This is in Japan.

LOL!?

So when does Tesla sue them for disclosing that they are a supplier?

2097.?

I’m glad they are perfectionists. The car will wow people.

I’m sure it would–in 2020. The S and X are designed to wow. The 3 needs to ship at a reasonable cost within a reasonable time frame.

If you’ve ever worked with engineers and if you had to wait for the part/product to be perfect by their standard before you can RTM, your part/product will never make it to market……lol

I think the saying is something like; sometimes you just have to shoot the engineer and start production.

I’ve not heard that saying, but I’m all for hearing it again! Hope it catches on.

“I think the saying is something like; sometimes you just have to shoot the engineer and start production.”

That is why you have so many major recalls and cheats in an industry because the stupid managers shot the the engineers too soon to start productions at dates that were set unrealistically.

Tell me about. All kinds of things change in every project except one thing, and that’s the delivery date. Well I shouldn’t say the delivery date never changes. Sometimes the customer gets it moved to even sooner.

In the original article, they discuss extensively the challenge of creating dies for aluminium body panels. They also say “Fuji Technica’s advantage lies in its ability to create dies for shaping aluminum for mass-produced automobiles.” Then they show a picture of an aluminium body panel. My belief is that the Model III panels will be aluminium and steel framing will be used in the roof (pink in the diagrams during the Part 1 reveal) and some other strategic locations where the right metal is steel. Otherwise, I believe in a dominance of aluminium framing.
The factory is set up for aluminium. The staff is trained to stamp aluminium. It is a brand advantage. The raw material cost is a difference of perhaps $700 and they are amortizing the additional stamping sequences through mass production numbers.
Remember the Saturn car company? They did plastic body panels. BMW i3 has a carbon fiber (partial) frame. Audi was (I think) the first brand to do an all-aluminium chassis and panels.
Let BYD and GM make steel EVs.

Agree. Even other “mass-market” EVs now have many aluminum/alloy parts. It makes no sense for the Model 3 to be made of steel.

“Let BYD and GM make steel EVs.”

The new Bolt is full of Al and Composite parts..

Vexar said:

“The raw material cost is a difference of perhaps $700 and they are amortizing the additional stamping sequences through mass production numbers.”

Aluminum vs. steel in a car body isn’t just a matter of raw material cost. Aluminum is harder to work with; it can’t be bent as sharply as steel, and it is more “springy”. so stamping out a shape may require multiple passes through the stamping press, instead of just one. At the very least, that means more time required to shape the same part.

The attempts by commmentors here to dismiss or belittle the cost savings from steel vs. aluminum, are simply ignoring the facts.

For more info on the subject, see section 4 in the article linked below:

http://www.thefabricator.com/article/metalsmaterials/6-questions-about-stamping-aluminum

However Tesla doesn’t have any models that have angular designs, including the model 3. This ain’t their first rodeo. I wonder what Toyota used for its newer designs and models, a lot more angular.

5 years ago we used AL5051 ~2.5mm THK for ALL our body panels and had no problem with the steel dies. Plus, we did not have as generous radius as I see in picture.

GO TESLA GO…can’t wait for model 3.

Another Euro point of view

I also want a good looking sporty car made by a boutique Californian car maker with hand polished aluminum body parts made in expensive Japan, and all of that for only $35,000 ! Can you imagine ?!

Those are hand polished stamping dies, not hand polished body panels.

I think there will be more aluminum in the Model 3 than people assume. It may cost more but once implemented they can make up that extra cost by having less battery. The i3 took that path to the extreme with their carbon reinforced plastic passenger cell. It allowed them to have a smaller battery with the same range as the other lower priced EVs like the Leaf. Of course it cost so much more that this cost outweighed any saving on a slightly smaller battery. But with a battery that will end up having almost 3 times the storage capacity like the Model 3 saving weight using more expensive aluminum in order to have a smaller battery should allow these costs to cancel each other out. Chevy took a different tack by using a more traditional manufacturing path to get the Bolt built and out the door. But in doing so they had to use a 60 kWh battery. If Tesla can spend an extra $700-$900 on aluminum per Model 3 which allows them to have 5kWh less battery for the same range then they will come out even at around $180 kWh at the pack level. They won’t… Read more »

Forgot to mention the benefit of better performance from a similar sized motor with less curb weight due to more aluminum and less batteries.

Great points, philip. Hope you are right!

One thing missed here is that these are *Japanese* engineers calling American engineers perfectionists. This is a wonderful change of the recent status quo (at least since the 1980s).

Good point. In the 1980’s, America’s Big 3 automotive engineers were having a very hard time keeping up with the Japanese. Now it seems that Tesla is turning the tables.

Where American auto manufacturers really fell down on the job, in the ’70s and ’80s, was in reliability. The influence of “planned obsolescence” became far too pervasive; cars were intended not to last many years, so buyers would be forced to buy a new one more frequently.

The Japanese took advantage of this deficiency in American made cars by offering cars which would last significantly longer before needing to be replaced, or needing major repairs.

And much as I’m a fan of Tesla motors, reliability isn’t one of Tesla’s strong suits. Tesla needs to learn how to improve their reliability from legacy auto makers… not vice versa.

I hear you, spending on American education is benefiting America.