Tesla Quietly Revises Electric Drive Units On Model S, X



Tesla Model S refresh

Tesla Model S

Tesla electric drive units are getting an unadvertised upgrade that could potentially make them ‘last forever’.

About those performance upgrades to the Tesla Model S and X that we mentioned last week … Not only will Tesla’s vehicles see the impressive boost in range and power, but also the system updates should move toward making the electric drive system last even longer.


Tesla Motor/Inverter

We already knew that Tesla CEO Elon Musk was working toward making Tesla powertrains last a million miles. It’s not a hard concept to consider, since the systems that power electric cars is super-simple in comparison to the significant complexity of an ICE powertrain.

Sure, like anything else that’s battery-operated, the battery will eventually need replacing, but not for a very long time. But, the motor itself could potentially last well beyond the lifespan of the car, or any human on the planet. It’s honestly infinitesimal.

Consider that old electric box fan than you inherited from your grandparents, and has been running nearly 24/7 at the cottage for some hundred years, or any variety of electric antique toys. Battery-powered electric products tend to stick around, often past their human operators.

Tesla’s recent update provides not only software improvements, which are ongoing for the electric automaker, but also hardware improvements. These upgrades are to the electric motors, inverter, and battery pack.

Thanks to Electrek, we just found out about another upgrade. It seems the automaker is also utilizing a new rear electric drive unit. Electrek was able to gather this information by noticing that the parts number for Tesla’s rear-wheel drive motor changed recently. The publication said that Tesla was not willing to confirm any details, aside from the fact that this is only happening on newly manufactured vehicles.

While we have no way of knowing for sure, we can speculate that these improvements are parallel with the technology that is being used in the upcoming Tesla Model 3. Why not put the new tech in the current vehicle lineup? It only makes sense that if Tesla’s engineers discovered better, more efficient, more powerful, more cost-effective, longer-lasting builds amidst Model 3 development, that those should make their way into any vehicles that come off the assembly line from this point forward.

Awhile back, Tesla disclosed that it would be building electric drive components for the Model 3 at the Gigafactory. In the past, not all of the parts in Tesla’s drive units were manufactured in-house. It seems that maybe the Model 3 is causing a welcome shift in this practice, which will benefit the automaker’s current and future lineups.

Source: Electrek

Categories: Tesla

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67 Comments on "Tesla Quietly Revises Electric Drive Units On Model S, X"

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Tesla has been revising these drive units almost continuously, for years. Mine was replaced last year I believe with a revision “Q” (something like the 17th revision).

Not just a version change. It’s a new part number.

Nice to hear this.
I guess this will benefit the Taxis and other Business vehicles. After all they drive more miles and reduce the pollution greatly by switching over to EV like Model-3.

Tesla website does not give a link to the complete specs on their models like other automakers do.

Can someone please write to them about this. It will be helpful for someone to use this for comparison.

Tesla is trying really hard to change the automotive business. Maintanance plays a key rolle in this business und Musk wants to wipe that off.
Job killer!

Not a job killer…job reformer. Just imagine how happy the ev mechanics/techs will be to work in air conditioned garages and not worry about being poisoned to death.

Go back to shovelling coal if you want to live in the past.

Well, railroads killed off river shipping industry, automobiles killed of horses, airplanes killed off railroads industry. Should we bring those back as well?

It will be interesting if, and what, Hyperloop and The Boring Company will compete with / kill off!

I understand that Hyperloop is about moving People fast, but I suspect that it might begin with early versions used for fast freight!

Sure, Tesla is likely to both Reveal, and Sell, the Tesla Semi, before any City to City Pairs have an operational Hyperloop, even for freight activity, but I also imaginge, between ‘Hyperloop’ and ‘The Boring Company’, we will start to see some movement of Freight Traffic to these pathways, within a Decade!

Possibly even Dedicated Freight variants of both ideas:
1) Tesla Semi with Trailer, drive onto a large Scale Like Skate Platform, gets both Weighed, and drops down into a Boring Tunnel, and Accelerates off, direct to next Zone, where it emerges, and drives on the surface under 50 miles to the dock for delivery!
2) Intermodal Hyperloop Designed Containers, delivered to a Hyperloop Terminal, transferred to a Hyperloop Capsule, and inserted into the flow. Picked up 400 miles away, 45 minutes later, for final Surface delivery!

I think I missed out on the impressive boost in Tesla vehicles range – the previous article is on upgrade in acceleration performance only…

“Not only will Tesla’s vehicles see the impressive boost in range and power, but also the system updates should move toward making the electric drive system last even longer.”

Is there really a update in the range numbers?

The two most important points to me are are Longevity and the Boost in the vehicle’s range.
As far performance is concerned.,there is too much performance already.

“Not only will Tesla’s vehicles see the impressive boost in range and power, but also the system updates should move toward making the electric drive system last even longer.”
Citation for “last even longer” or “boost in range”?
NOTHING in the Electrek article says or implies this.

Yes, the claimed performance improvement is most likely related to the new motor component, but for all we know, it may last less, not more.

There’s no incentive for an automaker to make anything in the drivetrain last more than the warranty.

Incentive to last longer, perhaps Elon Musk is trying to change the paradigm. We can be sure the established automakers would not try to increase the longevity well past a warranty period.

OTOH, all of the old players are trying to find anything to discredit Tesla, and this makes them look that much more foolish in the endeavor.

Competition is the incentive for automakers to build their cars to last longer than the warranty period. Every ICE car I have ever owned has lasted much longer than the warranty period, with nothing more than preventative maintenance wear parts (like brakes) replaced. I currently own a Mazda, a Lexus, and a Ford in addition to my Leaf. All good.

If something lasted on average only as long as the warranty the manufacturer would have a lot of claims (roughly half would fail before the warranty period ended). If something is warrantied for a given period expect that it will last at least twice that long. It would be too much of a headache for the manufacturer otherwise.

“There’s no incentive for an automaker to make anything in the drivetrain last more than the warranty.” Yes, I understand the theory: In theory, from the manufacturer’s viewpoint, everything on the car should fall apart or fail the day after the warranty expires. Of course, in practice, not every copy of any particular part is going to fail on the same day. As with many things, the distribution of the failure date will will fall on a bell curve, with some parts failing earlier than the average, and some later. Exactly where an auto maker would want the midpoint of the bell curve to fall, would depend not at least two factors. One of those factors is whether or not the auto maker plans to make a profit on selling replacement parts. If he does, then certainly he’ll want that midpoint on the bell curve to be not long after the warranty expires. But if Tesla is not planning to make money from selling replacement parts, then it makes sense to improve the reliability of the parts so they last longer, so fewer will have to be replaced under warranty. Of course in many or most cases there would have… Read more »

Tesla is in the business of selling batteries. That’s what they want you to buy repeatedly. The longer their cars stay on the road, the more batteries they can sell.

Tesla is the only Auto manufacturer with a massive incentive to make cars that last millions of miles with little to no maintenance other than tires and air filters.
Elon has said that once they achieve fully autonomous vehicles, the owner could send their cars off to work the streets on the Tesla rideshare network. They would compete with Lyft/Uber who currently take 25% of the fare.
Even if Tesla only takes 15% of the fare, they would make more profit in 1 year than they make selling the car initially (20 – 25% Gross Margin)

Tesla is the only car manufacturer who HAS a vested interest in making cars that need repairs and replacement. Being as it requires owners to do maintenance not at dealers but at their own service centers.

The dealers don’t manufacturer the O.E.M. replacement parts that they use in repairs.

In my experience in a previous life as a parts clerk at a dealership, parts and service are the primary profit centers of a traditional dealership.

“Tesla is the only car manufacturer who HAS a vested interest in making cars that need repairs and replacement.” Facepalm. Try looking up the term “planned obsolescence” and see how that applies to the Big Three of auto manufacturing, as well as how it opened up the door to Japanese auto makers stealing such a large portion of the American market. And if you think auto manufacturers don’t make a profit on selling replacement auto parts, then you don’t know much about the industry. Tesla, unlike other auto makers, tries to make its service and repair centers revenue neutral. I don’t know if they have the same intention for selling replacement parts. Certainly back in the days of the Tesla Roadster, Tesla if anything had higher prices for auto parts than other auto makers. * * * * * I commend Tesla for eschewing the standard auto maker tactic of changing the style of all their cars every year, as a way to keep getting people to buy new cars even when the old ones are perfectly fine. It’s nice to see at least one auto maker that completely ignores the lure of planned obsolescence. We haven’t seen that since… Read more »

Except of course the Hondas and Volvos that have gone 1,000,000 miles. In retrospect, some of those old ugly Honda Civics were almost perfect cars. I’m told the current crop of Toyotas and Hondas are not quite as good.

Its a shame that no American company at the time could have such a s stellar record.

Yugos, Vegas and Trabants seem to suggest there is a down side to cars not lasting much longer than the warranty. Detroit vs Japan in the 1970s is also instructive.

I think “Repeat Business” is a good incentive ..Also if the cars have less problems and Last longer they build a “Strong Reputation” their re-sale value stays up((Like Honda Was)) and more people will not be afraid to trade in or sell their car to buy a new model..A good name is better than “Bags of Gold”

Nothing lasts forever. I’ve had to toss out plenty of box fans. There are parts that go bad such as the bearings. No fan manufacturer will warranty their fan indefinitely.

That doesn’t mean they can’t be repaired but it’s usually not economical to do so. By the same token there are still some running Model Ts on the road, although their engines have probably been completely rebuilt. Sorry the fan is a really bad example.

And the idea an electric motor is going to last forever is utter nonsense. It may last a long time. It may last many times longer than an ICE engine, but it will still break at some point. I think a hundred years is way overly optimistic. 20-30 years maybe, which is still quite good.

From what the Model T owners I’ve talked to say, nobody keeps a Model T in running condition because they think it’s a reliable car. There is a reason the car was nicknamed “Tin Lizzie”, and that was because it was notorious for needing to be fixed frequently. Just read about any cross-country trip in a Model T, and how breakdowns are both frequent and expected.

Right, they even had a song about it.

Looks like I found a bad meme and swallowed it.

Thanks for the correction! 🙂

Yes, that old-time 25 Hertz equipment was built to last. The photo in your link is, as the article mentions – that of equipment used for the construction activities, and the finished Canal Lock system only used less than 1% of the previous power levels.

(The original Locks had such free floating bearings that they were driven by a mere 25 horsepower motor per side. The inginuity was such that the pressure of the water pressing on the LOCK helped seal it in place.)

Tesla also announced a boost in the 0-60 times for most of their standard model S and X’s. I’m sure these new drive trains had something to do with that.

I hope all the model 3s come with this and blow away the 5.6 second 0-60 time which leaked originally.

I think it would be safe to bet on Tesla not allowing any trim level of the Model 3 to have as good a 0-60 time as its higher trim level Model S’s, and quite possibly Tesla will electronically limit the acceleration on the Model 3 to make sure there is no overlap at all, even with the lowest trim level Model S’s.

But then, Tesla recently boosted the acceleration of the lowest trim level Model S’s, almost certainly to make sure there would be no overlap with the Model 3. So Tesla may not have to do much (if anything at all) in the way of limiting the Model 3’s acceleration.

I fully expect to see a Model 3 P75D (or similar) that is significantly faster than the base Model Ss.

The top performance Model 3 won’t be as fast as a top performance Model S, but Tesla will offer something that will compete well with the BMW M3.

This is certainly going to go down in history as one of Inside Ev’s more MEMORABLE editorial comments: “..But, the motor itself could potentially last well beyond the lifespan of the car, or any human on the planet. It’s honestly infinitesimal…” Mr. Loveday is more right than I think he planned to be. Infinitesimal is definitely how I’d describe the size of the gears – in other words the originals were much too small for the power involved – the first time I saw a cutaway of the unit years ago at the (at the time) new Tesla store in Toronto. Murmuring complaints out of the drivetrain and wholesale replacements were in the future. Tesla has addressed the badly overheating 14-50P adapter by doing two things, since they decided not to change the form factor of the overloaded plug: 1). Through software, err on the safe side when seeing otherwise unexplained voltage (pressure) drops when charging and doing step decreases in current, but more importantly, 2). Fuse the adapter such that a plug on the verge of melting will open the circuit and cool down. Such improvements apparently have not happened until lately with the drivetrain – which certainly would… Read more »
“That can’t be true, can it?” It might be. First of all, Tesla eliminated the popular Model S60, which certainly cut into sales. Secondly, Tesla had a production problem with the Model S100 battery pack, which was holding up production. That latter problem has been fixed, and obviously was just a temporary hold-up in production. Read what Jay Cole had to say about the Model S in the last couple of “Scorecard” articles here at InsideEVs, and you will likely get a better overall picture of Tesla’s production. A 24% reduction in Year-on-Year sales for California sounds alarming, but even if that’s true, it may be a very short-term situation. Those who would like to see Tesla fail often cite monthly or quarterly figures suggesting that the Model S has declining sales. Since automobile sales are highly seasonal, it’s not hard to cherry-pick numbers from 2 or 3 quarters which paint a false picture of declining production. That’s why we should look at Tesla’s annual global sales, and not pay too much attention to short-term or even quarterly variations in production. Tesla’s total annual sales: 2012: 2650 2013: 22,300 2014: 31,655 (+41.95%) 2015: 50,580 (+59.8%) 2016: 76,230 (+50.7%) Serial anti-Tesla… Read more »
Your post has the ring of truth, and seems like just a temporary issue, since Model S production for any given area seems to be sporadic.. It was refreshing to read your post since I fully expected you to crap on everything I said, – of course, then I would have expected you to be able to refute it. But, as mentioned I did enjoy Mr. Loveday’s comments, even if its not for the reason he had in mind. Tesla seems to have fallen into the trap that many companies have – that of underdesigning too many components – and then fixing them later. Of course, Mr. Musk seems to be happiest when there are ‘problems’ that need solving, so that he can camp out with his sleeping bag at the end of assembly lines, etc. But the huge markup on the “S” as of late – why they have increased prices to absolutely as high as the market will bear, when the car is so cheap to make, is something only a Rich person can also afford to buy, and to have repeatedly serviced. Ford vehicles that I have had in the past also exhibited the case of taking… Read more »

LOL at “Toyota’s Prius is all plastic junk”.

The Prius has earned an “Excellent, 5/5” reliability score from Consumer Reports EVERY SINGLE YEAR it’s been rated, 17 straight years.

Whereas the Volt has earned an “Average, 3/5” from 2012-2014, a “Below Average, 2/5” in 2015, and a “Much Below Average, 1/5” in 2016.

The GEN2 VOlts initially at least, don’t seem as good as the GEN1’s, I’ll agree on that much.

Perhaps Toyota has perfected what they can cheapen.

But one thing in my mind is for sure, and I don’t care what anyone says.

The GEN1 VOLT is the safest car EVER MADE.

Besides the Inside EVs anocdatotal gen 1 volt safety articles here, my nephew and his girl friend were rear ended while stopped at 50 mph, and catapolted into another car, in my 2011 Volt.

They both walked away with aching feet and backs, but no long term health issues.

And I believe it is still true that there has not been one fatality in someone actually driving in a gen 1 VOLT.

Not many cars can match that record – not Toyota, not Tesla.

that’s what’s kept me with chevy since my first. not only was it still reliable at 150k miles but when I got hit in it It got a dent the size of a softball whereas the other guy’s vehicle accordion’d and was unable to drive away.

Other studies have found the Volt to be exceedingly reliable, even the best in its class.

CR are, as usual, outliers. Same with Tesla: CR rates Tesla reliability unusually high as compared to other reliability surveys.

Bill Howland said: “It was refreshing to read your post since I fully expected you to crap on everything I said, – of course, then I would have expected you to be able to refute it.” Bill, I will continue to refute assertions from you or anyone else which I believe to be “bad memes” or misinformation, but I give you credit for this: I’ve never thought you posted anything you don’t believe, as FUDsters and trolls do. I think you do believe everything you post, right or wrong. I read with interest what you had to say about the “undersized” gears (I suppose you mean reduction gears?) and bearings in Tesla drivetrains. Those of us who follow the “story” of Tesla remember all the problems with the Model S drivetrain, the “milling noise” problem, as well as early claims from Tesla that it was due to a slight misalignment between the reduction gear and the driveshaft… but that the problem didn’t disappear when Tesla put in shims or replacement motor mounts to correct the claimed misalignment. Your comment, Bill, is the first time I’ve ever seen it suggested that the gears and bearings simply are not robust enough for… Read more »
When I was at the Toronto Tesla store opening they had cutaways of the ‘NEW’ model S – at least 5 years ago now… I was immediately impressed by how dinky the 40 amp power plug was (I said to the salesmen there – ‘they’re really going to try to put 40 amps through this thing?’, and then looking at how tiny the bearings and helical gears were for the Model S – which everyone knows has quite a large electric motor driving it. You don’t have to specialize in engineering to make the comparison between the “S” cutaway and the BOLT ev cutaway, with the Bolt having the smaller motor. Its obvious that the teeth on the BOLT gears are not having much sheer stress. I had wired my garage prior to my view of the “S” to eventually have 2 Teslas simultaneously charging. When I finally went to the Mississauga (Toronto) service center to have my Roadster inverter cleaned (something that HAD to be done every year – as the car wouldn’t charge if the inverter was too dirty), I often would walk through the garage feeling the Tesla charging cord plugs, plus looking at the voltage on… Read more »

not car jack – Nema 14-50 receptacle.

The best sales graph I could find is here:

As you can see, there’s a lot of variance, but overall s sales are flat. X sales were steadily rising quarter over quarter until the most recent quarter.

Not surprised at all considering the M3 rollout is imminent and many are waiting for a copy.

When one remembers that Tesla had about 12,000 Reservations for the Model S, before Deliveries began, and the FUD talk then was that Tesla will deliver those 12,000, and get no more sales; and also remember that they had about 20,000 Reservations for the Model X, which was created since Elon expected sales of it to totally eclipse or even replace sales of the Model S, I would say that sales of the Model S are holding up pretty well! Also, note that, in proportion, Model X sales are still ramping up, and in time will actually grow above Peak Model S Sales! (In spite of all the Billions transacted in Diet Plans, where people buy such vehicles, not many people are getting thinner or smaller or shorter!) SUV’s being more Popular in the USA & Canada, the new full fold down seats in the second row, increasing the variable utility of the Model X, is certainly not hurting its sales, either! As a side note, I noticed a Tesla Model X, in our ‘Long Service Parking’ lot on my way in to work last night! So, it seems, one of our 25+ year employees got themselves a Model X!… Read more »

“Also, note that, in proportion, Model X sales are still ramping up, and in time will actually grow above Peak Model S Sales!”

Maybe, maybe not. It may well be that a large segment of potential customers who are attracted to Tesla cars — the segment of those concerned with energy efficiency, the environment, and ending the wasteful burning of petroleum as a transportation fuel — are the kind who would avoid buying an SUV (or “crossover SUV”, as the Model X is called) because it’s unnecessarily large for most families.

If Tesla really wants to increase sales of the MX, then it needs to introduce a minivan/wagon version with a straight roofline and the falcon wing doors replaced by minivan-style sliding doors. Of course, if Tesla does that, it might well give it an entirely different model name, rather than labeling it just a variant on the MX.

S100 pack? Do you mean 100D? There is no S100 (and never has been) and as far as I know the X and S use the same packs. So any shortage of 100 packs would affect the 100 configs of the S and X equally.

It’s hard to imagine that the pack problem was the biggest factor considering the data Four Electrics linked to which shows S sales are flat even before this previous quarter.

It’s an expensive car, selling very well for such an expensive car (compare to the Mercedes S, BMW 7, etc.) it’s quite possible the S has simply hit a plateau for now. They may have saturated the markets they are available in (for the S).

“S100 pack? Do you mean 100D? There is no S100 (and never has been)” Yeah, saying “S100” was overly specific on my part. I should have said the 100 kWh battery packs. I think that affected the S100D and the S P100D equally. “…and as far as I know the X and S use the same packs. So any shortage of 100 packs would affect the 100 configs of the S and X equally.” I think you’re correct to say that the same battery packs are used in the MS and the MX. But Jay Cole’s “Scorecard” article for this month stated that there was a holdup in Model S production due to a problem with the 100 kWh packs, but didn’t say anything about a similar holdup in MX production. Why would the shortage affect one but not the other? It’s a mystery to me! “It’s hard to imagine that the pack problem was the biggest factor considering the data Four Electrics linked to which shows S sales are flat even before this previous quarter.” Shame on you, Unlucky. You are a frequent Tesla basher, but not an out-and-out serial FUDster troll like “Four Electrics”. Why would you sully… Read more »

TODAY’s (this hour’s) WTF moment, brought to you by…

Cars may go faster, but the AWD motors were always capable of 4’s, to 60mph. Haven’t they used basically the same smaller motor in all cars from the 85D forward?

Making cars last many more miles, but not necessarily years, is going to be one of the most important areas of competence if the world moves to shared fleets of much better utilized vehicles, since in such a world it will always be miles more than years that end a car’s useful life. A million miles is not unrealistic for an EV drivetrain, including the battery. Capacity loss slows down, and batteries keep improving and getting cheaper, so it seems entirely possible to provide initial capacity large enough that 70% remaining is perfectly useable. And there may be breakthroughs that eliminate or dramatically reduce capacity loss as well…

Meanwhile the rest of the car will go to complete crap by 200k miles.

I’m all for durability but everyone seems to think people will keep their EVs for 25 years because they’ll just last. They tend to forget that all the other components will go to crap long before that and that it’s not cost effective to replace all of them.

On the other hand, some Teslas get Attacked, er, Damaged, in Traffic Accidents, er, Stupidities, that getting a used Tesla Battery & Drivetrain, for an EV Conversion job, may be even more useful and desired / valuable, if it is these new longer lasting and more durable units! Great upgrades for FCA wild performance vehicles, after they blow an Engine!

Electrek conflated new drive with longer lasting drive. There’s no reason to believe that the new drives are Elon Musk’s 1 million mile drive.

Seriously? How is a company changing a part number news? It’s not like there’s any actual information about what was done.

Hey, here’s a hot scoop for you. There are design 1 and design 2 batteries for Bolt EVs, GM part numbers 24286671 and 24286782.

Of course we don’t know any differences between the two. For all we know they changed from painting it black to dark grey. But who cares, this information must be dispersed!

That’s a Chevy product. No one cares about them 😛

Ha ha ha! Well, apparently, SOME do!

The article says that “range” will be boosted but then leaves everyone hanging with no answer as to how much range gain will occur. How much will it be increased? For example, a Tesla S 100D has an EPA range of 335 miles with the older motors/drive. How much more range are they expecting with the improved motors – is it an extra 5 miles or even 10 miles bringing the range to 345 miles? Does anyone here wish to speculate?

Maybe there is another measurement of range.

You are obviously referring to what most people think of in terms of RPC – Range Per Charge, but this upgrade might be improving a different RPC – Range Per (drive unit) Change!

Just a guess!?

I think perhaps you were looking for an antonym of Infinitesimal?

1. Immeasurably or incalculably minute.
1. An immeasurably or incalculably minute amount or quantity.

Per the seemingly incorrect choice of using “Infinitesimal”, I would have thought they might have used ‘Infinite’, or ‘Infinitely’, but maybe they figured, after improvements, the number of warranty replaced drive units would drop to an ‘Infinitesimal’, or ‘Infinitesimaly’ small number!?

It will be interesting when Tesla pairs this with the new battery research they have been doing in Canada where they say they have doubled the life of battery cells.

Maybe such cells will make it into the first refresh of the Model 3, or the Model Y initial Products, in 2-3+ years?

Having Cells that can do 5,000 to 8,000 full discharge and full recharge cycles, AND deliver 400+ Wh/Kg, would be Amazing! I am sure the Tesla Semi would be one of the first benefactors of such Cells!

Such Cells could also have Elon get going on his futre pet project: the ‘Supersonic, Vertical Take-Off, Electric Jet’ that he sometimes mentions needs 400 Wh/Kg Cells!

However, I think Most Existing Pilots and Small Aircraft Owners, would be exstatic with a 150 Mph – 180 Mph Electric Aircraft, that Seats 4-6, and can fly 4.5-6.0 Hours per Charge, and have a 5,000+ Hour Time Between Overhaul (or Battery Change)!

“But, the motor itself could potentially last well beyond the lifespan of the car, or any human on the planet. It’s honestly infinitesimal.”

It’s honestly infinitesimal? So the motor is immeasurably or incalculably small? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯