Schematic diagram of a Tesla model S

Everything You Wanted to Know About Tesla Vehicles

While we recently told you more about Tesla cars and how they work, it seemed fitting to dive a little deeper. In this article, we’ll touch on the history of Tesla cars, the battery technology they use and what they’re made from. Besides, we’ll explore the self-driving function, powertrain, Ludicrous mode and learn how to charge them at home.  By the time we’re done, you’ll be an expert in Tesla cars.

Tesla logo

Brief History of Tesla Cars

Tesla Inc. was founded in 2003, just after GM got rid of all their electric vehicle prototypes. Just a year after the beginning, Elon Musk arrived on the scene with some much-needed capital. The first plan was to release a sports car and attempt to receive some sort of return on investment.

It wasn’t until 2008 that the Tesla Roadster was released, and it had a higher price tag than expected. It was produced for four years before being discontinued.

In 2012, they released the Model S. This model is still on the market and continues to receive upgrades plus new features. Then, they released the Model X to appeal to the SUV enthusiasts.

In 2016, Tesla unveiled the Model 3 and received over 300,000 orders in just a week.

Tesla Battery Technology

Batteries for Tesla come from the Gigafactory. These high-powered EV batteries utilize the newer 21700 cells. Tesla produces more batteries than any other manufacturer in the world. The only car containing these batteries right now is the Model 3. In the Model S and Model X, they still use the 18650 cells.

Hand holding a Tesla battery cell on red bacxkground

These 21700 batteries have 46% more volume than the previous cells. They’re also 15% more energy efficient. By switching batteries, Tesla maximizes energy with minimal increase to weight. While the voltage remains mostly unchanged, it’s the battery’s chemistry that’s different.

Instead of other automakers that utilize one prismatic battery, Tesla prefers to power their cars and home storage solutions this way. By adding more cells, it’s easier to increase the range without changing the system voltage.

While other automakers are outsourcing their battery production, Tesla also saves money by keeping it all in-house. This might just be their single biggest advantage in the electric vehicle race.

Tesla Car Construction

Tesla is known for producing lightweight, strong vehicles. Let’s take a closer look at how they make this happen. In the Model 3, there are three various steel grades used. The outer body structure features mild steel to absorb the initial impact. Then, high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel are used in the core.

With the ultra-high-strength A- and B-pillar, Tesla provides maximum rollover protection. Also, the front frame rail serves as the primary support to the front crumple zone. They also don’t allow Structural Pulling on their welded or riveted components. This keeps the materials strong and safe for consumers.

In the Tesla Model S, you’ll find aluminum created from bauxite ore. This is lightweight at just 410 pounds total for the entire vehicle. Then, high-strength boron steel is used at safety points, just like with the Model 3.

The underbody of Tesla vehicles features ultra-high-strength titanium. This further protects the battery from any piercing or roadside force.

Tesla Model S schematic diagram/frame construction
Tesla inc.

The interior features rare earth metals in the car speakers and various other electronics. There are also some plastics made from petrochemicals in the cabin. All the leather is derived from animals, particularly cowhides. Tesla’s glass windows are constructed from silicon. In addition, some interior components contain copper and carbon fiber wire.

The wheels are created from bauxite ore aluminum alloy. Moreover, Tesla uses a high-performance copper rotor motor plus a stator made from steel and copper. On top of that, copper or aluminum foil is used inside the battery.

Self-Driving Functions

All Tesla vehicles feature self-driving capabilities that show greater safety levels than if driven by a human. The systems use eight surround cameras that offer 360-degrees of visibility. On top of this, they utilize ultrasonic sensors for further detection of soft and hard objects.

Tesla self-driving 360 camera view
Tesla inc.

Newer vehicles come with an updated computer that processes 40x the information as the previous models. This allows cars to see in every direction at the same time. On top of that, the systems use wavelengths that reach beyond what humans can accomplish.

Enhanced Autopilot matches the speed of traffic conditions, automatically switches lanes, exits the freeway and keeps the vehicle within the lanes without any input from the driver. It even self-parks when near a spot that works. If that wasn’t enough, the Tesla models can be summoned to and from your garage and other locations, until it finds you.

Tesla semi-autonomous driving fonction
Tesla inc.

If you don’t direct your Tesla vehicle where to go, it simply looks at your calendar to find your assumed destination. If there’s nothing on your schedule, it drives you home. There’s no worry about urban streets, complex intersections, stop signs or roundabouts; the Tesla vehicles are set up to handle it all with ease.

4-Engine Design

All Tesla vehicles come with one gear; there isn’t even a reverse or neutral gear. This system works through four electric motors that are fixed to the wheels with a gearbox. This reduces the speed of the axle while driving.

Because the optimal speed of the alternating current is higher than the momentum needed to turn the wheels, the gearbox is a necessary component. On Tesla cars, the axle speed sees a reduction by about ten. What this means is that every time the motor rotates ten times, the wheel turns once. This allows for extra torque on the axle which gives additional pulling power.

Each of the motors also has an inverter. This transfers the direct current from the battery into AC. This allows the microcomputer to manipulate the rotational direction and speed of the motor. That’s why you don’t need a reverse gear. The inverter controls the forward and backward motion.

The DNR gearstick inside a Tesla doesn’t do anything but signal the inverter computer to turn forward, stay neutral or turn the motor backward.

Ludicrous Mode

The Tesla Model S P1000D and Tesla Model X P100D come with a Ludicrous Mode. Tesla first put this mode on the Model S and it sent the four-door sedan to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds. That’s equivalent to what you would find in a supercar.

The acceleration boost doesn’t actually come from additional battery power. Instead, it’s simply a product of tweaking the engineering and electronics that already existed. Because the fuse could melt with too much acceleration, Tesla developed new technology. This set of electronics knows when the power is too high and cuts it, but until then, you can utilize Ludicrous Mode.

Home Charging Options

The steps to charging your Tesla at home are simple. First, you have to have the equipment installed. Tesla provides this service in many states, or customers can hire an independent electrician.

Tesla Model S charging at home

The quote for the equipment should contain the following information:

  • List of hardware needed
  • Circuit breaker and power level
  • Electrical system upgrades, if required
  • Inspection and permit

Tesla also includes its wall connector as part of the installation. If you hire an independent contractor, you’ll need to supply this connector.

The wall connector is the recommended way to charge your vehicle. It’s customizable to any home power supply and provides the fastest method of charging. The mobile connector comes with all new cars. This plugs into any standard 110 or 240-volt outlet for charging anywhere.

Final Thoughts

Tesla cars are unique in their construction, operation, and materials used to create the batteries. There’s nothing quite like a Tesla vehicle on the market today, and they’re likely won’t be any time soon. The future of electric cars is here and Tesla continues to lead the pack.

Own a Tesla? Let us know about your experience with this electric car in the comments below! You can also find a tesla repair and service manual here.

About Nishal Singh

Car enthusiast since before I could drive.

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