The Tesla Model Y could be set for some tweaks that will make it easier to produce, as the compact SUV continues attracting buyers and broadening Tesla's appeal.
The electric car company started delivering to customers its Model Y vehicles in March 2020, and the entry-level vehicle — which, along with 2017's Model 3 sedan — is designed to transform Tesla from a niche automaker to a mass-market manufacturer.
During the company's second-quarter 2020 earnings call last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed the company could make changes to the Model Y design that would help the company achieve a major goal. In essence, if one can make the Model Y faster, one can make more of them.
"We're really changing the design of the car in order to make it more manufacturable. The fundamental architecture of Model Y will be different in Berlin. It may look the same, but the internals will be quite different and fundamentally more efficient architecturally than what we've done to date."
The company is also taking steps to improve its manufacturing process at its existing Fremont facility in California. This facility, which at one point belonged to General Motors, was purchased by Tesla in 2010 and became its first full-scale factory.
"The world's biggest casting press is getting assembled right now, actually, in Fremont for the Model Y rear body casting. It's enormous and it looks awesome."
Musk teased more about this new casting process during the previous quarterly earnings call. He explained the company is developing a new casting system where "essentially the rear third of the body is cast as a single piece." Musk claimed that "no casting of this size or complexity has ever been done before."
The comments suggest that, while the Model Y has already started making waves in the marketplace, Tesla is not done with changes just yet. As part of the company's plan to produce more electric vehicles at speed, Musk has spoken before about how the Model Y is being designed for ease of manufacturing. In May 2019, Musk said the vehicle would be a "manufacturing revolution" when compared to the Model 3.
The vehicle's launch has been a lot smoother than its Model 3 predecessor. At the time of the latter vehicle's release in July 2017, Tesla was making around 2,000 Model S and X vehicles per week. Musk set the goal of reaching an output of 5,000 cars per week, a period in the company's history dubbed "production hell." Tesla ultimately met this goal 12 months after launch. The Model Y had a comparatively subdued launch by comparison, and Tesla claimed it was the company's first vehicle to reach profitability in its first quarter of production.
Tesla is currently undertaking a mission to build more factories around the world for these entry-level vehicles. The goal will be to reduce the complexity at individual factories by enabling them to focus on local consumers. A new facility in Shanghai handed over the first vehicles in January 2020. Within the next 18 months, Tesla is expected to bring a further three facilities online. Factories have been announced for Berlin and Austin in Texas.
The Inverse analysis — The Tesla Model Y could end out as the company's most popular vehicle, which means smooth manufacturing is key. The number one type of vehicle in the United States is the crossover, according to data from Statista. Musk claimed in January that demand could be 50 percent higher versus the Model 3.
It had a relatively quiet launch, it's having relatively quiet success, and its design looks pretty similar to the original Model 3. But in terms of reaching more EV-curious buyers and transitioning more drivers to clean energy, the Model Y could be Tesla's most exciting vehicle yet.