Teardown - Tesla 2013 Model S
IHS Media Relations
Everyone knows that Tesla Motors Inc. doesn’t do things the same way as other automakers.
However, the company’s unique approach to automaking runs far deeper than the Model S’s electric drivetrain, battery packs and futuristic body. In fact, the company’s unconventional approach extends all the way down to the electronics behind the car’s infotainment and instrumentation systems, according to the Teardown Analysis Serviceat IHS Technology.
A physical dissection of the Model S reveals that in terms of design, components and manufacturing, these user-oriented subsystems have more in common with a tablet or smartphone than they do with a conventional automobile.
“The cost structure of the electronics, the use of large displays in the cabin, the touch-screen-based controls, the mobile microchips—everything in this design makes the Tesla experience more like a media tablet or high-end smartphone than a traditional automobile,” says Andrew Rassweiler, senior director for materials and cost benchmarking at IHS. “It’s like looking at the components from the latest mobile device from an Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy product. When it comes to the user-facing segment of the Model S’s electronics, the company has radically departed from business-as-usual in the automotive market.”
(Watch Andrew Rassweiler discuss the teardown with Electronics360 Managing Editor Dylan McGrath.)
IHS is in the process of conducting a complete teardown of a Model S, dissecting and analyzing each subsystem, from the air-conditioning controls, to the safety systems, to the powertrain. The initial analysis focuses on the car’s two most electronics-intensive segments: the virtual instrument cluster and the premium media control unit—aka the head unit—which is the main center stack and touch-screen panel.
The analysis has generated a list of outstanding features and superlative attributes, including:
The cost structure of the Model S’s premium media control unit closely resembles that of a smartphone or tablet because the display and touch screen are the two most expensive subsystems, the same as for an iPhone or iPad. The high cost is due to the sheer scale and size of the display and touchscreen.