The latest video from the Tesla Model Y teardown process seemed to be about the Octovalve. Sandy Munro started it by talking about that part, bringing some entertaining information about the way it is made, but the real star in this video is the HVAC module. To be more specific, its airbox – an injection-molded part.
Munro sees there is one part of it that presents little ridges, clearly made with 3D printing. But why would that be necessary for a molded component? According to Munro, because the airbox must have some sort of manufacturing issue.
The engineer tries to put that discovery in the “interesting” category as a way to make production flow. Otherwise, it would be necessary to wait for the tools that mold the airbox to get fixed and deliver parts that would not have any issue.
Gallery: Sandy Munro Model Y Teardown
That is a positive way of looking into that, but this is not what happens in legacy automakers. Most do what is called “Verification of Process.” In short, it performs the assembly of cars as an experiment to train workers and also to check it everything will go as planned. If anything fails, it is fixed before the SOP – Start of Production.
By 3D printing the airbox, the impression we have is that Tesla thought everything was settled and started producing the Model Y without checking. When the company realized the airbox had an issue, it improvised this fix to get the first cars to their owners.
Another possibility is that Tesla verified the assembly process, found the issue, and decided it would take too much time to get it fixed. In order not to delay it, the company came up with the 3D printing solution to get the production going and deliver its first Model Y on Friday the 13th, back in March.
That all would make sense if Tesla had a reputation to keep in delivering cars and new features in the schedule it promised them. That is not the case. If it were, we would probably already have autonomous vehicles by now.
But it gets even weirder: The Model Y was expected just by the end of 2020. As far as we know, there was no reason to rush its delivery. If it were delivered on time, that would be just as good as having the car so early. It would not harm the company’s reputation.
All things considered, why the rush? This is not a first in the Model Y’s short history. After only 27 days of its presentation, Tesla decided to start to offer a tow hitch. Why not from the start?
In the end, we discovered the Octovalve has tiny slots made with EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining) – for thermal expansion, like expansion joints in buildings. And also that it uses friction stir welding on aluminum parts. Anyway, what we really want to find out is more about the airbox. We hope the 3D temporary fix is reliable and that it does not become a permanent solution.