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Elon Musk Admits He Got Idea For Tesla Model Y Front & Rear Casting From Toys

Elon Musk at his latest appearance at the All-In Conference has revealed that he got the idea for Model Y front and rear casting from the manufacturing process of toys. This is yet another example of Musk's first principles ethos and why the EV maker is leading the industry.


Tesla has currently implemented a new way of building vehicles that the world has never seen before. Unlike all other automakers, which use robots to weld together their vehicles, Tesla basically “prints” the Model Y chassis as a single piece.

Tesla first set out to improve how it manufactures vehicle bodies after the Model 3’s chassis was harshly criticized by automotive veteran Sandy Munro. Munro criticized the Model 3's rear chassis for being made up of 70 plus parts with dozens of welding techniques and metal types.

The Model 3 approach increases the vehicle’s complexity, manufacturing time, failure points, factory footprint, and cost. This all adds up to a more expensive vehicle yet at a lower quality.

For the Model Y, Tesla has eliminated this issue by building the front and rear chassis as single pieces. And now Musk says he got the idea to build the front and rear of the Model Y as single pieces from Toys.

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At his latest appearance at the All-In Conference, Musk was asked about all the innovations taking place at Tesla’s newest factory, Giga Texas. In his answer Musk said…

“We have also introduced a major innovation which is to cast the entire front third and rear third of the car as a single piece. I got this idea from toys actually. I was like how do they make toys, those are cheap - they just cast them. I was like can you build a casting machine that big and they were like, no one ever has. I was like are we breaking the laws of physics? No. Let’s just ask them. There were six casting machine suppliers in the world and 5 of them said no and the 6th said maybe. I will take that as a yes.”

It’s incredible to think Musk came up with a major innovation that will save Tesla hundreds of millions of dollars by simply asking “how do they make toys so cheap”. This is another instance showing how Musk’s first principles ethos is Tesla’s primary advantage and why no one will catch up to the EV maker anytime soon.

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Musk has recently said every good minute he spends thinking about improving Tesla translates to a million dollars.

Of course, Musk’s process isn’t as simple as he puts it. Before Tesla could utilize the large Giga casting machine built by its supplier IDRA, the EV maker first had to create a new aluminum alloy. Tesla’s new aluminum alloy has a unique property that enables it to maintain its shape despite significant changes in temperature.

However, even after figuring out how to cast aluminum at this scale, Tesla was just getting started. The EV maker utilized this innovation to create a structural battery pack. A structural battery pack in conjunction with the newest 4680 cells increases the range of Tesla vehicles by 54%.

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Elon Musk has previously said the upcoming refreshed Model Y, which implements all the breakthroughs outlined above will be the most advanced vehicle in the world.

However, Tesla recently had to explain why the refreshed Giga Texas Model Y, with 4680 cells and a structural pack only has 279 miles EPA range.

As of now, we have yet to see a vehicle from Tesla that brings together all these breakthroughs. However, we will be sure to keep you posted as the EV maker improves its vehicle lineup. Until then, make sure to visit our site regularly for the latest updates.

So what do you think? Surprised to learn Musk got the idea for the Model Y’s front and Rear casting from toys? Also, what do you think of Musk’s approach to solving problems? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image: Screenshot FromTesla Battery Day presentation

For more information check out: Tesla Delays Giga Shanghai's Plan for 2 Reasons That May Affect Giga Berlin

Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news.