20.04.2023 Luca Wilhelmy
Behind this garage door is an electrically powered road vehicle, the Tesla Model Y. Weighing in at 1995 kg and with room for up to 5 people, the Model Y, which has a maximum speed of 250 km/h, is one of the most popular electric vehicles. This is also reflected in the sales figures, 4.3 million Model Y were sold worldwide in the first half of 2022.
One of the special features of the Model Y that is relevant for lightweight construction is the production of the rear underbody structure of the chassis. In the Model 3, there were 70 different components; in the Model Y, there are only an impressive two components. This considerable difference has an immense impact on the vehicle on several levels. First of all, the integrative aspect should be considered. The elimination of the additional components also means that fewer connections have to be made between the components. This means that weight can be saved by eliminating the need for connecting materials (e.g. screws, welding wire, adhesives, etc.).
In addition, many weak points caused by connecting elements are eliminated. Furthermore, the integration into 2 components can save the production of 68 individual parts. This is also associated with transport and storage costs, which are eliminated for the smaller number of components. To produce the components for the Model Y, a so-called Giga press is required. The Italian manufacturer IDRA produces such Giga presses. The Giga presses are die casting machines that press aluminum alloys into shape with a force of up to 9,000 tons. For the Model Y, however, only Giga presses with a press force of up to 6,000 tons have been used so far.
The Lightweighting Effect
The integrative design of the rear underbody structure in the Model Y is a great example of integrative lightweight construction. The reduction in components results in a number of advantages. As already explained, both structurally, by eliminating joints, greater rigidity can be achieved in the structure, and cost savings are also possible in various areas. In addition, the weight of the connecting elements is eliminated, thus ensuring less weight on the rear axle.