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Published on August 24th, 2017 | by James Ayre


Tesla Model 3 Blending Steel & Aluminum — More Details

August 24th, 2017 by  

New details have now been revealed about the exact structural composition of the Tesla Model 3. Images of Tesla Model 3’s Body Repair Tech Note have been posted to social media.

While it’s been known for a while that the Tesla Model 3 would utilize a lot of steel in its structural design, rather than relying on relatively expensive aluminum as the Model S and Model X do, the specifics of the design have remained hazy.

The new images reveal, though, that the Model 3 design is quite sophisticated — relying upon an integration of 3 different grades of steel and aluminum.

Teslarati provides more: “Tesla uses three different grades of steel, from mild steel used on the outer body structure where it’s designed to absorb initial impacts, and high-strength, to ultra high-strength used in the vehicle’s core. For instance, the A-pillar and B-pillar (noted in red on the graphic) is fabricated from ultra high-strength steel in order to provide maximum rollover protection. Model 3’s front frame rail is a composition between high-strength and ultra high-strength steel, and serves as the main support for the front ‘crumple zone’.

“Tesla Model 3’s body repair manual notes that ‘Structural Pulling’ is not allowed, meaning that any structural component that’s welded, weld-bonded, riveted, or rivet-bonded to the vehicle can not undergo a process wherein the straightening of structural parts are facilitated through a hydraulic pulling machine. Doing so would compromise the yield strength of the metals being used.

Also noted in the Model 3 structural diagram is the “underbelly” that serves as the main support for Model 3’s skateboard-style battery pack, similar to what’s used in its older Model S and Model X siblings. The entire underside of the vehicle is fabricated from high-strength steel. Side impact safety on the Model 3 is bolstered by a fully fortified closed steel structure in ultra high-strength steel.”

Lightweight aluminum is then utilized for the parts of the structure that aren’t particularly susceptible to damage during collisions — the wheel wells and the trunk floor. This use of aluminum aids in keeping the vehicle weight figures down. (The Tesla Model 3 weighs 3,549 lbs or 3,814 lbs — depending upon battery pack size and range.)

While it was interesting enough to hear that the Model 3 would use a mixture of steel and aluminum rather than just one or another — and that’s basically the most any of us would ever need to know — it’s interesting seeing the way they are blended and why certain segments were chose for aluminum versus steel or vice versa. Clearly, a good bit of engineering work went into this, something Elon surely had a hand in.

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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