And here’s what they discovered.
It’s been standard practice for decades for automakers to quietly buy competitors’ new models and tear them down to their bare metal. The objective is to study the competition inside and out. Sometimes the disassembling work is outsourced to third-party firms, who then duly publish their findings.
Not surprisingly, it made some very interesting discoveries. For starters, it found that the Model 3 costs about $2,000 more than a similarly priced BMW i3, but it may still have additional cost problems at its California assembly plant.
While a couple of grand may not sound like all that much, you should know that some compact cars built by larger mainstream automakers don’t even earn $2,000 in profit per vehicle. Point being, Tesla has unconventional production methods likely because of one person: Elon Musk.
"If that car was made anywhere else, and Elon wasn't part of the manufacturing process, they would make a lot of money," Munro told Reuters. "They're just learning all the old mistakes everyone else made years ago.” However, Munro is a self-declared admirer of Tesla, so he sent the company a list of 227 suggested improvements, free of charge.
What are some of those improvements? Why use a steel and aluminum frame at the bottom of the car? Typically, this is done to increase safety, but the Model 3 isn’t your typical car. Because it’s an EV, its battery pack sits in the floor and already adds stiffness. Point being, Tesla made the Model 3 heavier than necessary without gaining any safety in return. Another weird Model 3 design trait is its trunk. Instead of a one-piece fiberglass unit, as is typically done with other carmakers, Tesla opted for a more expensive aluminum one, which has to be held together by rivets and weld points because it’s comprised of several pieces.
“This body is their single biggest problem,” Munro said. “It’s killing them.” The bottom line is this: the Model 3 could earn Tesla more money per car sold if it utilized cheaper though just as safe construction methods and materials. At a time when Tesla is struggling to earn a continuous profit, any and all cost-cutting methods should be examined.