Tesla Model S Underbody Shields – Installation Complete

MAY 9 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 11

Tow Hitch Hitting Underbody of Tesla Model S After Shield Install

Tow Hitch Hitting Underbody of Tesla Model S After Shield Install

Lots of Tesla Model S owners have already had the underbody shields installed.

Here’s what those shields consist of:

The first of the three shields is a rounded, hollow aluminum bar that is designed to either deflect objects entirely or, in the case of a self-stabilizing, ultra high strength object, like a three ball steel tow hitch, absorb the impact and force it to pike upwards well forward of the battery pack. This pierces the plastic aeroshield and front trunk liner, but causes no damage affecting safety and the car remains in control and driveable before, during and after the impact.

This is followed by a titanium plate, which has exceptional strength-to-weight properties and is more commonly seen in aerospace or military applications. The titanium plate prevents sensitive front underbody components from being damaged and aids in neutralizing the road debris.

By this point, the vast majority of objects will have been deflected or crushed. For the rare piece of debris that remains intact, we added a third shield, which is a shallow angle, solid aluminum extrusion that further absorbs impact energy, provides another layer of deflection and finally causes the Model S to ramp up and over the object if it is essentially incompressible and immovable.

And here’s what the Model S looks like once the shields have been installed:

Model S Underbody Shields

Model S Underbody Shields

All that’s visible is the third shield, “a shallow angle, solid aluminum extrusion.”

The other two shields are covered by the plastic underpan that the Model S comes equipped with from the factory.

Seeing as this install is so clean from an aerodynamic perspective, we have to agree with Tesla Motors who says the install of the shields have virtually no impact on range:

“The protective qualities of the underbody shields are substantial, but their effect on the overall structure of the vehicle is minimal. In total, the shields only have a 0.1 percent impact on range and don’t affect ride or handling. Wind tunnel testing shows no discernible change in drag or lift on the car.”

Our suggestion is that Model S owners go get the underbody shields installed.  There’s essentially no downside to the install and the upside is added safety and a reduced risk of underbody damage.   And yes, a battery swap can still be performed on an underbody shield-equipped Tesla Model S.

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11 Comments on "Tesla Model S Underbody Shields – Installation Complete"

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Good to see that Tesla addressed this design flaw.

I wouldn’t call it a design flaw. I would call it an enhancement, which goes beyond abnormal debris the car will encounter.

Would you refer to a gasoline tank as a design flaw? It can literally explode when punctured, not just slowly catch fire.

“Our suggestion is that Model S owners go get the underbody shields installed.”

Yes, it should be a no brainer to get this done. For various reasons, including preserving resale value.

One question for all of you Model S owners – Can you know re-adjust your car to automatically lower itself once up to highway speeds? Is it now a manual adjustment you make on the fly?

You can set the speed at which the car lowers itself to various levels (low, standard, high) and manually override as well.

“And yes, a battery swap can still be performed on an underbody shield-equipped Tesla Model S”

Is Tesla still planning on deploying a battery swap network??

Yes but not a mass deployment. The first battery swap station will be built in Los Angeles later this year. It will be monitored to see how many people really use it. Elon knows that its not an essential means of “charging” your car but just wants to see how it would do.

But the main reason for the battery swapping was to really just show that you can “fully charge” an electric car just as quick as filling up a tank of gas. Supercharging the way to go.

And Tesla has repeated that it is a dichotomy since the rate at battery capacity / cost / performace / charging can increase so fast that the long time and management of battery swapping make the former a likely better choice.

Only in California, in very limited numbers– depending on demand and any unforseen SwapStation ‘complications’ to the vehicles using them.

Some design pieces while available are not used much as in this case, with the battery swap. I don’t know what you call it redundancy or over design.
I think the problem with objects striking and penetrating the battery pack was a design flaw, albeit, one that is statistically unlikely to occur. The potential of that happening has now been remedied by this enhancement.