Why Titanium Tesla's a Big Deal

Why Titanium Tesla's a Big Deal

Great to see Tesla bolting titanium armor beneath the Model S. Watching those gifs of the underbody in action, says Model S to the puny alternator, "I will clush you."

Looking at the long term picure, the benefit here goes beyond battery protection. Large use of titanium in a production sedan is a big deal and a first in the industry. Titanium is used on millon dollar F1 race cars and in small amounts for connecting rods in high performance Porsches. But you don't see it used on mass production sedans.

Titanium is expensive, difficult to manufacture/process and has a high stength-to-weight ratio. Tesla is using this battery shield excercise to learn how to source titanium, work with it and use in high volume. This learning process opens the door to expanded use of the Big T. in future rollouts.

I find this pretty exciting.

logicalthinker | 28. mars 2014

Tesla is so incredible... I am blown away.

Captain_Zap | 28. mars 2014

It is too bad that this is a voluntary measure taken by Tesla. I would like to see all auto manufacturers held to this standard.

All eye opening, horrific videos and stories we saw about impalement and dangerous undercarriage damage in ICE vehicles were chilling.

I still think I am safer in a Model S than any ICE vehicle even without the modifications Tesla is making. I want to see some of the same testing done on a modern ICE vehicle to see how they fare.

jordanrichard | 28. mars 2014

Do we know exactly how big these titanium shield is and what is protecting up front.

dglauz | 28. mars 2014

I could be wrong, but, I think I remember that there is some Titanium alloy is some other part of the car. Memory from factory tour in June 2013.

AmpedRealtor | 28. mars 2014

Running over some damaging road debris would make for an awesome test drive event! lol

KKTesla | 28. mars 2014

Once again setting the gold standard. Corporate America should learn from this. Thank-you Tesla

P85D | 28. mars 2014

Meh....I'd rather have seats that are more comfortable than a titanium plate.

Brian H | 28. mars 2014

Why is this topic not under Model S Forum? Iowa, if you are still around, please move. "Edit" by the T logo.

Mark2131@CA-US | 28. mars 2014

Truly amazing response from Tesla!

I love the way that they've come up with a proactive, overwhelming, out of the box response to a low probability event. This response basically says, STFU to the nay sayers. Can't wait to get my retrofit.

chenglo1 | 28. mars 2014

can we find out what VIN this started?

logicalthinker | 28. mars 2014

@Mark2131, exactly. STFU naysayers.

Can't wait to see how the naysayers will try to spin it.

"Tesla modifying their cars to appease NHTSA into giving them an all-clear"

or whatever. /barf.

Muzzman1 | 28. mars 2014

My Car went into production 3/14 and my VIN is 34353, so they probably started the shield about 33800 or so.
Based on a 100/day/production

Mark K | 28. mars 2014

Further affirmation that Tesla is just crushing it.

Our heroes are reminding the old guard what it means to innovate.

thranx | 29. mars 2014

I always tell people that the titanium crowbar I keep in the back is an option that came with the car, then watch them try to sort out why a car would come with a crowbar of any kind.

kawdennis | 29. mars 2014

Wow! Tesla is the greatest! I tell people it's my happy car, I can be in bad mood and hop into the Tesla and I become happy !

ye | 29. mars 2014

thranx, I bet you only posted that so you could watch me try to sort out why you keep a titanium crowbar in your car.

jordanrichard | 29. mars 2014

chenglo1, VIN#s are not built in sequence. So, you have to go by the build date mentioned by Elon, which is Mar. 6th.

Velo1 | 29. mars 2014

Titanium is also the choice for high-end racing bicycles. Carbon fiber (a.k.a. Carpet Fiber) is also lightweight and strong, but if you crash a carbon fiber bicycle, it is prone to cracking, and thus racers need to replace (throw away) the frame. Titanium is significantly more durable and ideal for absorbing road vibration. Aluminum frames transfer the highest road vibration, btw.

JPPTM | 29. mars 2014

I've seen the parts in person. Beefy extruded aluminum quarter round bar up front weighs a couple of pounds (guesstimate). The black titanium plate is very light (maybe not even a pound) and pretty thin--meant to deflect debris and prevent penetration, but the bar is the 'cow catcher' that can take the impact you see in the video clips in Elon's blog. Retrofit can be done on essentially all S on the road (including most early Sigs and Founders cars).

Mark K | 29. mars 2014

@JPPM - thanks for that.

Just the right amount of molecules of the right stuff, in the right spots ... to nail it.

Classic Tesla Engineering team ethics at work. Awesome.

Bighorn | 29. mars 2014

On the tour this week, guide said 120 cars/day but 5 days a week. Funny that the guy didn't know about the upgraded battery protection if it had been ongoing for 3 weeks. I asked him specifically if anything was in the works. I'm starting to doubt my bs detector:)

JohnGlenney | 29. mars 2014

With the addition of titanium armor and supports under the body of the model s, it seems unlikely that this would be consistent with a quick battery swap. Does this mean that Tesla has decided to scrap the whole battery swap concept. The battery swap seemed like a demonstration project that Tesla was not fully committed to. I would like to see pictures of the armor modification to know if this is the case.

tes-s | 29. mars 2014

Smart move by Tesla - negotiate a settlement with the NHTSA, fix the problem, and have a voluntary recall instead of a very public mandatory recall.

JPPTM | 29. mars 2014

myfastlady...the components don't appear to bolt to the battery pack. Not sure if the most 'aft' aluminum plate actually overlaps the pack or just buts up against it. I would assume that the engineers did devote a modicum of thought/time on this issue.

logicalthinker | 29. mars 2014

@tes-s, err, what did I say naysayers would claim?

Read NHTSA's announcement: they did not predicate their clearance of Tesla in any way on Tesla's choice to add armor to the car.

Mark K | 29. mars 2014

@tes-s- you really think they could do all that homework the night before the test?

Whatever Tesla endeavors to do at their own initiative, and on their own dime could always be labeled a preemptive strike prompted by what they might be compelled to do.

That can happen, but I don't that's the case here. I think Tesla's extraordinary wisdom was not forced by the NHTSA.

Most of those 200,000 gas cars that caught fire were not the subject of a threatened recall.

tes-s | 30. mars 2014

@logical - negotiated settlement, that is all. That is how it works. Better to create your own corrective action to a problem than have the government force corrective action.

NHTSA "coincidentally" stopped pursuing their investigation - right after Tesla announced modifications?

Tesla would have to be a bunch of morons to implement an expensive modification like this without having it agreed to by NHTSA. Do this modification, only to have NHTSA make them do another??

@mark - I never said anything about Tesla's extraordinary wisdom. They know better than the NHTSA what to do, and I never said anything was "forced" by the NHTSA. We will never know what the conclusion and recommendation of the NHTSA investigation would be. AFAIK there was never a threatened recall - just an investigation.

Tesla did the smart thing - created a solution to the problem, and got agreement from the NHTSA that if implemented it would satisfy the concerns that started their investigation.

Isn't it better for Tesla to make the change now and fix the problem, before someone dies? That is the way GM handles problems, not Tesla.

I'm glad Tesla came to their senses, realized there was a problem, and proactively made a change. Remember, they initially denied there was any took the NHTSA investigation to bring them to their senses and do the right thing.

robert | 30. mars 2014

OK, could anyone tell me whether this will be retrofitted to my Sig Perf free of charge?


Bighorn | 30. mars 2014

Yes, Robert. What are you waiting for? A certain date on the calendar? Surprisingly, some service centers are ready and able to begin work. Given the 14-50 adapter delay, I anticipated long wait lists for this upgrade as well. Can't speak to the situation in Sweden, but Colorado is over-delivering.

NKYTA | 30. mars 2014

@robert, do you still have to ship to Copenhagen or do you have a Swedish Service Center by now?

Pungoteague_Dave | 30. mars 2014

@robert - do you have ranger service? It is surprising what they can do in your driveway or garage. My first pano roof rebuild was done at my home, with the whole roof off and parts from one end of the garage to the other. This may require a lift, but it's worth asking. I have a lift and will be asking them to do this mod at my location, 210 mikes from the nearest SC. EU may be different, which is why I am asking.

shop | 30. mars 2014

I'm blown away by how fast Tesla was able to engineer, test, source materials, and manufacture, and test, and get the logistics worked out. I'm quite convinced that no other company operates as fast!

Brian H | 30. mars 2014

tes-s has amazing insider connections and info on decisions and procedures at Tesla and NHTSA.

Or not.

DallasTxModelS | 31. mars 2014

The blog said it started March 6 but will be retrofitted to any previous cars during a regularly scheduled Service.