What if the Tesla Model 3 would have had an aluminium body, just like the Model S and Model X. What would the base price be?

What if the Tesla Model 3 would have had an aluminium body, just like the Model S and Model X. What would the base price be?

The Tesla Model 3 will have a steel body and a US base price of $35,000.

Aluminium is obviously more expensive than steel.

What would the US base price of the Tesla Model 3 have been (instead of $35,000) if it would have had an aluminium body instead of a steel body?

It would obviously more expensive than $35,000.

But how much more?

Would it have been a small difference or a substantial difference?

Anyone who can tell us something with regard to this subject?

Tâm | March 27, 2016

Costs $500 more for each F-150 Ford Pickup Truck.

Benz | March 27, 2016

Wow, $500 really isn't that much, I think.

Considering the advantage of the lower weight and therefore some extra/more range. Resulting in a lower kWh consumption per mile (for the life of the car).

Ankit Mishra | March 27, 2016

I hope it has an aluminum body, otherwise it will create fragmentation in manufacturing. An aluminum Model 3 will help Tesla to get better at it. Also, it might help alleviate the body shop problems Tesla cars have when damage to body happens.

flight505 | March 27, 2016

I read Tesla has installed a higher-capacity aluminum stamping press, so maybe Model 3 will be aluminum.

Chunky Jr. | March 27, 2016

$500 added cost for 500K cars a year is $250M a year. Each dollar Tesla can shave off the cost could be another $500K in their pocket. It's possible that using aluminum will result in other savings to justify the added expense, but it could also be a luxury they can't afford to get the margins they want at 35K. We'll know soon enough.

Chunky Jr. | March 27, 2016

Here's an article that claims the cost of an aluminum structure is 60-80% more expensive than using steel :

Here's another one that says the costs can be more competitive :

carlk | March 27, 2016

The guide mentioned during the tour we took at Fremont plant yesterday aluminum body costs twice as much as steel to make.

Red Sage ca us | March 27, 2016

It would be $35,000.

Honestly, this reminds me of the 1 lbs of gold versus 1 lbs of sand 'brain teaser'...

A $1.00 hot dog is still a $1.00 hot dog.

Benz | March 27, 2016

@ carlk


"aluminum body costs twice as much as steel to make."

Could this be about correct:

A steel body: $500
An aluminium body: $1,000

Or is it more like:

A steel body: $1,000
An aluminium body: $2,000

Red Sage ca us | March 27, 2016

Which weighs more: a pound of feathers, or a pound of gold?

Chunky Jr. | March 27, 2016

@red : the old troy ounce trick question?

Red Sage ca us | March 27, 2016

Chunky Jr.: Yeah. The same sort of thing as playing Three Card Molly... Everyone keep their eye on the Queen, OK? See? Here she is... Round, and round, and round she goes...

robgorman | March 27, 2016

I'm not an engineer, but it seems to me that Model 3 will be made from aluminum,just like the S and X, since the Freemont factory is already set up and producing alumninum body cars. The equipment required to lift/move heavier steel panels is different from the equipment already in use. If 'ease of build' is to be the foundation of M3, then aluminum is the way to go.

Benz | March 28, 2016

What we already know is:

Steel is cheaper than aluminium, therefore steel is the more economical choice.
Steel is heavier than aluminium, therefore aluminium is the more "fuel"-efficient choice.

Cars are primarily made to enable people to have private mobility.

During the lifetime of a car people will drive in it for a few hundred thousands of miles.

It should be very obvious that during the lifetime of the car the extra money that is initially paid for having an aluminium body instead of having a steel body, will be earned back many times because of the extra "fuel"-efficiency gain of aluminium.

dd.micsol | March 28, 2016

I believe it will be all aluminum. This is a car that should last 30 years or more with no rust. Only change out battery brakes and rubber.

PhillyGal | March 28, 2016

@Benz, Chunky - What we also don't know is how the cost of using aluminum will change over the next few years BECAUSE of Tesla's robots. They're doing everything they can to attack the costs of batteries, maybe their processes will some day affect the use of aluminum too.

jordanrichard | March 28, 2016

Elon has already stated that parts of the Model ≡ will be steel. He didn't specify, but like many cars today, it will be a mix of metals. Just look at any modern ICE. It is made up of plastic, aluminum and steel. Hell for anyone that remembers the R107 chassis SLs from '72 to '89, the hoods on those car were aluminum.

Hi_Tech | March 28, 2016

I'm hoping Model 3 will be aluminum for several reasons:
1. Hopeful longer body life in the New England weather;
2. Lighter body weight leading to better performance, etc.;
3. Reduce the complications by introducing new equipment & process for steel body.

In the end, I'm certain Tesla will do what they believe will keep the quality high for now, and for many years to come.

Benz | March 28, 2016

What is more important:

1 - Use steel instead of aluminium, to reduce the cost, in order to hold on to the base price of $35,000 of the Tesla Model 3.


2 - Use aluminium, even if that would increase the base price of the Tesla Model 3 (for example to $36,000).

I would choose the second option.

If it's $36,000 then so be it.

I think that all EV models (from any brand) should have an aluminium body.

It should be standard practise.

Just like a flat battery pack in the floorpan (skateboard-design), for the low center of gravity.

milesbb | March 28, 2016

no one is talking about the cost of repair. Steel body cars can be repaired at your local body shop for a reasonable price. Aluminum body cars need to be repaired at specialty repair shops costing a very signifiant premium. Look up discussions on the Model S Forum and see what folks are paying to repair model S. Pay an extra 1K for Aluminum body and an extra 5K for the parking lot fender bender repair.

PhillyGal | March 28, 2016

@milesbb - That is a very valid point! Insurance companies will catch on early and the mass market members who may have been willing to stretch a bit for a Model 3 may not be willing or able to stretch for increased insurance costs.

Guy2095 | March 28, 2016

I am thinking Ford is changing that with their new F150, the largest selling vehicle in the country for many years running. Lot's of shops are going to be competing to do aluminum.

Red Sage ca us | March 28, 2016

Once upon a time, a guy at Tesla was interviewed and merely said that Model ☰ would be made from 'appropriate materials'... Sometime later, someone asked Elon Musk and in an offhand comment he said it would be 'made of steel'... Since then, many Tesla Enthusiasts have predicted the Generation III vehicles would be built primarily using 'high strength lightweight steel', with strategic use of aluminum bits, and perhaps combined with a carbon fibre reinforced plastic 'life cell', similar to what BMW introduced with the i3/i8.

Even so, at least until Thursday, I'll hold out hope the Model ☰ will be built in a manner very similar to the Model S and Model X. That is, 90% of frame and body being aluminum. So that most of what you see in the exterior of the completed car is aluminum, plastic, and glass... While some critical components that are hidden within the body are made of hardened boron steel. I believe that the long-term anti-rust aspects of construction greatly outweigh the issues of fender bender correction. | March 29, 2016

Cost is cost. Tesla can't afford to lose a little money on each car and "make it up with volume" :-))

It will be interesting to see how they fulfill Elon's goal of building "compelling BEVs" on a tight budget with some challenging goals: $35K base price, 200 mile range, drag coefficient of .20, etc.

Currently, the base price of the MS is $70K so that's build a car that is 20% smaller that sells profitably at half the price. Abracadabra...

Benz | March 29, 2016

Drop the $35,000 goal.

In favour of an aluminium body. | March 29, 2016

@Benz: easy for you to say. :-))
I'll pass your requirement to Elon next time I see him.

Red Sage ca us | March 29, 2016

Ford changed the bodies of their entire F-Series of pickup trucks to aluminum. They get their aluminum from ALCOA. It just so happens that Tesla Motors gets their rolls of aluminum sheet metal from ALCOA as well. If I were ALCOA, I wouldn't mind keeping Tesla Motors as a client when they build a car with ten times the Production rate of the Model S. All three companies are AMERICAN as well. And besides, keeping one more automobile manufacturer away from the 'high strength lightweight steel' vendors would be a nice motivating factor for ALCOA as well. So, why not cut Tesla a deal?

dd.micsol | March 29, 2016

Price difference between steel/aluminum is about 750.00/car. For 35k better be aluminum since steel will be used in the frame. Rumor from SpaceX is new battery tech-E is to come with graphene battery which makes if faster to charge-10m for about 150m-then it will trickle another 5 min to get to 190 or so.

JuJoo | March 29, 2016

They said they were going to be using steel instead of aluminum. But to my knowledge they never specified whether they would use it on body frame or just components. It's possible the body will still be aluminum.

Darryl | March 29, 2016

I am pretty sure Tesla has already said that in order to keep the base Model 3 at $35k they will use a steel BODY.

NKYTA | March 29, 2016

Nobody dare say it...but what if the goal is the mass market car that the people want costs $45k

Okay, I'm now officially baiting the big Red. :metal:

dd.micsol | March 30, 2016

Darryl-Elon said on tour that the model E will have a steel frame-not body panels.

Uncle Paul | March 30, 2016

It is not just the cost of the aluminum product that makes production more expernsive, but that material is much more difficult and expensive to work with.

Welding steel is cheap and equipment much less costly. Easier to train people to work with steel than aluminum. You can bolt steel together easily, while aluminum needs special fasteners and adhesives.

Steel is faster to pound out, and painting far less critical.

Zebuf | March 30, 2016

The added weight of steel would demand more batteries for equal range, so I don't think there's real savings here. Also the tooling/robotics/experience for aluminum are all in place, so I hope for an all aluminum body.

As to base price - I am sure they can make an entry-level model at 35K retail. Cheap interior, small powertrain, no autopilot hw and no SC access and you're there.
So they can fulfill their promise, while 80% of the customers end up spending 50K and upwards.

My money is on a M3 P70DL with 368 hp rear + 257hp front engine ;-)

Red Sage ca us | March 30, 2016

Zebuf: BMW sells an entry level car for $33,150 that with any other badging would probably be priced $12,000 less. Tesla Motors will be able to match, and likely surpass, its perceived quality with a $35,000 price point. No need to 'cheap out' on Model ☰.