Model S

Model S vs. ICE: How many moving parts?

edited November -1 in Model S
Perhaps this has already been asked and answered, but can anyone list Model S's moving parts? We heard the total is around 20. When people ask us how our Model S compares to ICE cars, we will then be able to provide an accurate description/location of moving parts on this new, clean-sheet-of-paper design.


  • edited November -1
    How detailed do you want it? Do wheels count? The "engine", which is really a motor is the only real moving part. If the car has the air suspension then there is an air pump in front, there is a coolant pump for the battery pack, a steering rack like any other car.

    Show them a picture of the car without the body (the skateboard), and that should answer all their questions.
  • edited November -1
    There are cooling system pumps and fans for the battery & inverter. The HVAC system also has a few moving parts, fans and compressors and such. Twenty does sound like a reasonable number of moving parts for this car.

    Here's one source that says a typical ICE car has ten thousand (!!!) moving parts. Wow, that's a lot. Release also touches on the sanctity of dealerships, from the era when the threat was direct sales over the Internet of autos of that time. It's since been deleted by NADA, but it's in the Internet Archive:


    For the auto manufacturers to do anything other than rely on their franchised dealers to sell their product would jeopardize a distribution system that has served the public well. In fact, so well that it is now taken for granted. It is a competitive system, disciplined by market pressures. And there's nothing that any dealer can do to restrict these market forces.

    Every state government, as well as the courts, recognizes the automobile as a "complex necessity of modern life." When you consider that a car has more than 10,000 moving parts and more computing power than the Apollo moon launch, it is easy to understand why the sale of such a complex machine requires regulation. Buying a car over the Internet is nothing like purchasing a CD or contact lens.
  • edited November -1
    It all depends on what you count. Does each button count as a moving part? How about windows and door handles? There are a lot of moving parts in every car. Each electric window likely has at least 20 moving parts. Do you count each ball bearing in a bearing (each are a moving part). It gets complicated really fast.

    Now assuming the motor bearings are sleeve type (I don't know), then the Tesla motor has one moving part. A V8 ICE engine likely has 200+ moving parts, not counting all the attachments such as the water pumps, AC compressor, oil and fuel pumps, etc. Also many of the ICE parts are in a very stressful environment (explosions, high-heat, etc.).
  • edited November -1
    In regards to buttons and switches, no, those don't generally count. Bearings of course would, as would motors in a window, the window itself which moves in the track, etc.

    From WikiPedia:

    The moving parts of a machine are those parts of it that move. Machines include both moving (or movable) and fixed parts. The moving parts have controlled and constrained motions.[1][2]

    Moving parts do not include any moving fluids, such as fuel, coolant or hydraulic fluid.[citation needed] Moving parts also do not include any mechanical locks, switches, nuts and bolts, screw caps for bottles etc. A system with no moving parts is described as "solid state".

    For the purposes of discussion of the point which the original poster made, clearly the Tesla Motors cars are far, far simpler than their legacy ancestors. No air intake system, no exhaust system, no fuel pumps and filters, and none of the hundreds of moving parts that are embodied in a modern engine. This is a key reason Tesla and future EVs like it will win in the long run.

  • edited November -1
    There are hundreds of moving parts in an ICE driveline that aren't in the S, however there are still quite a few moving parts in the S. Suspension, gearbox (although simplified), driveshafts, assorted fans, pumps, window motors etc.

    The S is still a very complex machine.

    More appropriate is to think of the moving parts and consumables that are eliminated. No belts, air filters (other than AC ),spark plugs, coils, balance shafts, harmonic balancers, pistons, rings, camshafts, valves, lifters, valve springs, fuel pumps, injectors, pressure regulators, idle mixture regulators, throttle bodies, catalytic converters, mufflers, gudgeon pins, conrods, big & little end bearings, timing belts or chains, distributors, rotors, ignition leads, fuel filters, alternator, tensioners, clutch or torque converter, multi-speed transmissions - which contain hundreds more moving/wearing components, the list goes on.

    To put this in perspective a typical four cylinder engine has two camshafts, a crank, 16 valves, 16 lifters - or buckets/shims, 16 valve springs, 16 valve guides, 12 or more piston rings, 8 main bearings, 8 big end bearings, 8 gudgeon pins, 4 pistons, 4 spark plugs, either 4 coils or a distributor which contains regular service parts (cap, rotor) and it's drive unit from the camshaft, sprockets or belt wheels, camchain or belt plus tensioner(s), 8 or more camshaft bearings, 4 injectors, 2 fuel pumps, 2 pressure regulators, plus more that I haven't thought of.

    The S still has the cooling system & pumps etc, albeit simplified as there isn't so much waste heat. This does make the heating system in the S a bit *more* complex as you can't simply scavenge waste heat from the cooling system as in an ICE.
  • edited November -1
    When I drive, everything on the car moves (or so i would hope).
    The question becomes: how many parts does a Model S have vs an ICEV.
  • edited November -1
    I can't imagine why door locks and mechanical switches wouldn't count as "moving parts" (other than an unattributed claim by a random anonymous author in Wikipedia). It is certainly true that the MS DRIVETRAIN has many fewer moving parts than that of an ICE vehicle which, all else being equal, is a good thing. This does not, however, mean that the MS is SIMPLER. Much of the complexity has simply been moved from hardware to software. If you include software, the MS is probably a LOT more complex. This is a mixed blessing. Software is a non-recurring engineering expense, and hardware isn't, so there is a definite potential for long-term cost savings. Also, as we all know, new software features can be and are "pushed" after delivery, often for free. OTOH, there is a lot of rope with which to hang oneself in a computer, and the engineering of stable software systems is far less mature than is the engineering of mechanisms. Getting out the "last bug" is notoriously difficult, and new features mean a constant influx of new bugs.

    Although it is likely true that the physical simplicity of the MS will play out well in the long run, it is also true that ICE engineering is incredibly mature, a fact that is often overlooked, leading some Tesla owners to make exaggerated claims concerning the short-term cost-savings of EVs vs ICE vehicles. Modern ICE vehicles have dramatically lower maintenance costs than ever before, and they really don't break very often.
  • edited November -1
    I would say that this would be a direct comparison between engine and drive train of ICE to Model S. i believe this is a simple non technical discussion between lay people. Based on that assumption the number does not hve to be exact and a ball park estimate should suffice. Taking into account the rotating motor and fixed coil and forgetting about the plumbing for cooling , Also considering direct drive to the wheels a ball park non technical figure would be less than 12 moving parts maybe as low as 4 or 5 not taking into consideration wheels and bearings. (This is purely a guess having looking at the showroom display, i do remember asking this question to the sales person with an answer in high single digits or low teens) . A more correct answer would be calling tesla and asking them or your local showroom.
  • edited November -1
    Before I get shot down for a simplistic approach. I think most lay people are interested in the difference in the electric motor versus gas motor. Everything else door handles electric windows etc are mute as they are common to both ICE and MS. Hence the low number of parts engine to engine with out the plumbing,
  • edited November -1
    I'd add in the transmission and drive/shaft. In an ICE the transmission has many moving parts, although I've not seen a number. In the Tesla there is one reduction gear. Might as well make the Tesla look even better!

    Both have a differential, wheels, etc. so there's no reason to include them.
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