If you have read any of my articles about the MCUv1 issues, they have a mistake I have to apologize for. Some of them mention that the MCUv2 is on the Tesla Model 3. The truth is this vehicle – and now the Model Y – has a cluster of computers that is ironically called ICE. When Mr. Green told me about this and kindly sent me the picture above to show the differences, that was something I had to share with you. For the sake of past and future articles.
What happens is that the Model S and the Model X have two physically distinct computer units: one for infotainment and one for Autopilot. The infotainment computer is called MCU, and it is integrated with the central screen. The Autopilot computer is installed above the glove box.
When the Model 3 was presented, it also had a central screen, which ended up being the only display in the entire car. Anyway, it is detached from the infotainment computer and the Autopilot hardware. If you are curious about the "and," that's because the ICE integrates both computers in a single unit.
With the future MCUv2 retrofits, Model S and Model X owners will just have to replace the old MCUv1. Whatever Autopilot hardware they have, they will be able to keep it right where they are.
Gallery: Why Are Tesla's Computers Different For Model S And X and Model 3 And Y?
For the Model 3 owners that want Tesla to give them the HW 3.0 their cars were supposed to have instead of HW 2.5, both the infotainment and the Autopilot computer will have to be replaced.
We have often referred to the Autopilot computer as HW 2.x and HW 3.0, but they are also physically different on the Model S and Model X compared to the ones used on the Model 3 and Model Y. Mr. Green explains what sets them apart:
“The differences are: different interconnect (regular ethernet packaged into a nonstandard connector) for S/X, and two fan connectors for S/X to drive the fans (no fans on 3). That's about it.”
As you may conclude, they do not look that different. Anyway, a Model S/X unit could not just be installed in a Model 3/Y and vice versa. That puts the Autopilot computer on the same boat of the infotainment units shown in the picture above. That leads us to relevant questions.
The Model Y ICE already presents differences when compared to the one used by the Model 3, as Mr. Green also revealed. We understand that Tesla wants to perform constant improvements to its cars, but why not use the same computers for all vehicles? Wouldn't that save a lot of money?
If the MCU was designed to have an integrated screen, wouldn't it have been easier to find a way to make it a separate part and use the same MCU on the Model 3? That would have allowed replacing only the leaky yellow screens instead of the whole MCU. Cases like this have been reported dozens of times, both on Tesla and TMC forum threads.
If Tesla designed the ICE to have separate parts, that would have given it the possibility of replacing only the infotainment or the Autopilot hardware in case that was necessary. If any of them have an issue, the company will have to replace the whole cluster.
Tesla probably does not recycle these computers because the cost of doing so is higher than that of just throwing the ICE away and using a new one. That means two things: apart from a perfectly good computer going to the trash, these replacements become a concern from an environmental point of view.
As someone already said, less unsustainable is still not sustainable. For financial or ecological concerns, Tesla should give this more attention.