Tesla and Plastics

Logo of Tesla

Tesla Inc. is a very well-known electric vehicle manufacturing company located in California, United States. The company was founded in July 2003 by Mr. Martin Eberhard and Mr. Marc Tarpenning with an aim to produce affordable electric cars, naming the company in honor of the inventor Mr. Nikola tesla. Mr. Elon Musk purchased majority shares in the organization in February 2004 and eventually became its CEO in 2008. Tesla Inc. provides employment to about 70,600 persons, having revenue of about 31.5 billion USD in 2020 and has sold 5,09,737 cars till date. Tesla Inc. has five large factories in California (USA), Tilburg (Netherlands), Nevada (USA), New York (USA), and Shanghai (China); whereas, two plants are under construction in Brandenburg (Germany), and Texas (USA). Tesla Inc. is well-known for its auto-pilot cars and huge investments it is doing in batteries; but you will be amazed to know the developments the organization is doing in plastics; which will be enumerated in the current blog post ‘Tesla and Plastics’.

Co-founders of Tesla

Some of the major materials used in making a most of the Tesla vehicles are:

  • Aluminum (body and chassis)
  • Boron steel (reinforcing the above aluminum)
  • Titanium (underbody)
  • Rare earth metals (electronics)
  • Plastics (battery and other parts, light weighting)
  • Leather (seat covers)
  • Silicon (windows)
  • Rubber (tyres)
  • Copper and steel (motor and engine)
  • Cathode, anode, electrolyte (battery)

Major suppliers of Tesla

Some of the major suppliers of Tesla are: AGC Automotive (windshields), Brembo (brakes), Fisher Dynamics (power seats), Inteva Products (instrument panel), Modine Manufacturing Co. (battery, chiller), Sika (acoustic dampers), Stabilus (liftgate gas spring), ZF Lenksysteme (power steering mechanism) etc.

This link tries to provide a complete list. Please do check.

Tesla and Plastics

You will be amazed to know (I hope!) some of the developmental work carried out in Tesla related to plastics and is listed below:

  • Tesla’s manufacturing unit located in Nevada (USA), also called as Giga Nevada or Gigafactory 1, is largely into making of lithium-ion batteries; wherein, plastics is used in making battery casing, separators, solar polymer cells, autonomous indoor vehicles etc.
  • From the past 20 years Tesla has been recycling about 90% of its lead –acid batteries which forms 60-70% of the new manufactured batteries. Likewise for the plastic recovered from this batteries.
  • Link provides the list of various plastic materials approved by Tesla, its usage areas in the vehicle and its reparability.
  • Tesla Inc. was in talks with its metal and plastic parts supplier – Riviera Tools LLC, in 2015 to accommodate supply of the parts during production ramping up of its luxury Model S cars. The company was later re-named as Tesla Tool and Die Factory.
  • In 2019, news was featured in ‘Forbes’ magazine; which reported snapping of the plastic made car accelerator during driving, putting passengers lives at risk. A compliant was also filed with National Highway Transportation Safety Administration of USA then.
  • In 2019, few factory workers of Tesla’s ‘GA4’ production tent (temporary facility raised by Tesla, to manufacture 6000 Model 3’s every week) reported usage of electrical tapes in joining or patching cracked plastic brackets to avoid time loss in complete repairs and meet the set target of producing 6000 cars a week. The allegation was refused by Tesla Inc.
  • As per the 2019 Tesla’s Impact report, Tesla sent 1000 tons of nickel, 320 tons of copper and 110 tons of cobalt for recycling. However, they are researching methodologies for improving recyclability of plastics, and other organic materials. 2019 Tesla Impact Report
  • As per Tesla’s 2007 report, the skin of Tesla Roadster was made using carbon fiber encapsulated in epoxy resin, using the process of resin transfer molding. The material was also used in its rear panel.

Dear Readers, do go through the above content on ‘Tesla and Plastics’ and let me know your viewpoints in the Comments section.

Thanks for Reading!

I put up a new post whenever I come across an interesting topic, so follow my blog and stay updated about the developments in the polymer industry.

References

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