The Tesla teardown is a staple of the EV literature. Teardown expert Sandy Munro has taken apart many a Tesla, with highly informative (and entertaining) results. Various legacy automakers have performed their own private teardowns—rumor has it that, when the Model 3 first appeared, a group of German automakers paid an enormous sum to have a couple of units shipped to Germany for their perusal.
We’re happy to hear that Toyota recently tore down a Tesla Model Y, because the venerable brand badly needs an infusion of electrical inspiration. According to Automotive News, the teardown may even have pushed Toyota to begin work on a new EV-only automotive platform. The current e-TNGA platform appears to be an existing ICE platform with a battery and a motor shoehorned in, and AN opines that the lack of a proper electric platform may be one reason for the poor performance of the bZ4X crossover that Toyota launched in 2022.
When Akio Toyoda resigned Toyota’s CEO post in January, EV fans saw hope for a new direction. His public statements, however, have been ambiguous. “The new team can do what I can’t do,” said Toyoda. “I now need to take a step back in order to let young people enter the new chapter of what the future of mobility should be like.”
New CEO Koji Sato has hinted at a change of strategy, and at the end of January, Toyota announced it was working on a new platform developed exclusively for EVs, which is expected to become active by 2026.
Automotive News tells us that Toyota decided to develop the new platform after engineers and executives were “impressed” and “shocked” by what they saw in the Model’s innards. “Taking the skin off the Model Y, it was truly a work of art,” one Toyota exec told AN. “It’s unbelievable.”
Tesla doesn’t use model years, and its cars may look the same over time, but changes and updates are made on a frequent basis. Recent Model Ys built at Gigafactory Texas that use both front and rear megacastings and a structural 4680 battery pack—an architecture that enabled the automaker to eliminate hundreds of parts and greatly increase overall efficiency. One Toyota estimate shared with Automotive News showed that Tesla had reduced the vehicle’s weight by as much as 220 pounds while improving efficiency and cutting costs.
Since Tesla’s early days, skeptics have predicted that legacy automakers would use their expertise and financial expertise to bury the upstart—the fact that that hasn’t happened reflects a basic difference in corporate cultures. As Automotive News puts it, “Given enough money and time, we’re sure Toyota could produce electric vehicles at the same level as Tesla. It has money, but time is of the essence. And it lacks another essential ingredient: the mindset. Toyota needs a cultural change to accomplish that.”
Reading AN’s report, we’re hopeful that such a welcome cultural change is at hand. “We need a new platform designed as a blank-sheet EV,” one Toyota executive said.