Toyota Execs Geek Out Over Disassembled Tesla Model Y

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Despite its size and considerable resources, Toyota has been slow to develop and release new EV models. That will likely change under its new CEO, but the automaker has a long way to go, as its recent tear-down of a Tesla Model Y highlighted its deficiencies in EV engineering.

Toyota got ahold of a new 4680 Model Y, which uses Tesla’s newest battery design as a structural element of the chassis. The Japanese automaker’s engineers discovered that the popular SUV’s unchanging exterior shell had hidden several innovations under the skin, including significant weight reductions and an overall simplification of its design.

One executive was taken by the Tesla, exclaiming, “taking the skin off the Model Y, it was truly a work of art. It’s unbelievable.” Part of that artistry comes from Tesla’s megacasts, which are large single-piece components that help reduce the number of parts used in manufacturing. The automaker is currently the only one casting such pieces, as most OEMs manufacture much smaller components and bolt them together later.

Beyond a hit to executives’ egos, the teardown revealed the importance of ground-up EV platform design. Toyota is accelerating its development processes and plans to have its own platform ready by 2026. That said, it’s sticking to previous CEO Akio Toyoda’s philosophy of a diverse mix of low- and zero-emissions vehicles moving forward. 

[Image: ice_blue via Shutterstock]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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11 of 71 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Mar 01, 2023

    Ford is the undisputed leader in automotive technology.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 01, 2023

    All the car companies have their own issues. Don't think the self-repo is one of their better ideas.

    • Norman Stansfield Norman Stansfield on Mar 02, 2023

      Why the worry about self repo? Like many features on Ford, it probably won't work.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Mar 02, 2023

    If you watch the entire 4-hour Tesla Investor Day presentation (what kind of person would do that, besides me), the Tesla team talk about Toyota's 'engineering work of art' comment about Model Y (start at 1 hour 3 minutes 56 seconds and watch until 1 hour 6 minutes 27 seconds to hear it in context) and call it "funny" that Toyota admires the "really silly" current process. You probably shouldn't watch the part that follows after that.

    • See 3 previous
    • VoGhost VoGhost on Mar 02, 2023

      That niche manufacturer is on pace to out-sell Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Chrysler combined this year. No wonder you're so triggered.

  • Teddyc73 Teddyc73 on Mar 03, 2023

    "geek out"? Are teenage girls back from Comic Con writing you headlines?