Hybrids & Electrics

Tesla’s Skateboard Announcement Today Makes Competition Obsolete Again

Tesla announced today that it will retire the iconic “Skateboard” platform. It is the type of platform that with variations all of the other companies trying to catch up with Tesla have adopted. So with this announcement today all of the competition became obsolete. It’s a stunning pivot from what was considered the standard electric vehicle platform.

What will Tesla replace it with? Structural battery packs. And when you analyze it this was the most logical step to take for EV production. There are a number of reasons why. Let’s take a look. 

The skateboard concept has been adopted by every EV manufacturer since the Tesla Model S

a sleek Tesla Model S press photo against a white backdrop
2020 Tesla Model S Performance | Tesla

The standard skateboard architecture involves placing battery packs and motor on the floor of the car between the rear wheels. It acts as a platform to place the batteries upon. Sort of like placing a steak dinner on top of a plate. The plate holds the food. This concept has been adopted by virtually every EV manufacturer ever since the Tesla Model S was released in 2012. 

Now Tesla will abandon the skateboard and instead make the battery pack part of the structure of the car itself. Instead of batteries placed on a platform, they become the platform. They are now structural instead of dead weight sitting on a platform. 

Here’s how Tesla founder Elon Musk told callers in a Q3 call as related by Teslarati, “It’s not like existing cars stop having value. It’s just that if you have a structural pack, where the pack is contributing structural value to the car because of like the — sort of like the composite honeycomb effect of share transfer between upper and lower plate, then anything that doesn’t do that is going to have to have duplicate hardware.

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“We’re trying to make the car like you’d make a toy”

“It’s going to weigh more. It’s going to cost more. And then the same goes for the front and rear castings. To be frank, we’re trying to make the car like you’d make a toy. If you had a toy model car, how would — and then it’s got to be really cheap and look great, how would you make that? You’ll cast it.”

Back in the day aircraft had separate fuel tanks. But as construction became more sophisticated and weight became a factor the inside of the wings became the fuel tanks. This eliminated making the tanks, bracketry, and added weight. “It would be absurd to make it up of tiny little pieces of stamp metal joined in complex ways. So it’s sort of a natural thing to do. And then the same goes for using the energy storage, the battery as a structure, which is done for aircraft wings and for rockets.

“You don’t want to put a box on a box, basically”

Tesla Model 3 vehicles which will be exported to Europe
Tesla Model 3 | Getty

“The early rockets and aircraft, they had a separate aeroshell from the propellant tanks or fuel tanks, and then they realized that doesn’t make sense. And you’ve got to integrate — you’ve got to have your fuel tank in wing shape. You’ve got to have your propellant tanks in the shape of the body of the rocket, for example. You don’t want to put a box on a box, basically,” Musk said.

With this latest news, everyone in the development stage of their EVs will have redundant components and added weight that Tesla won’t. Tesla has dated its EVs before they have debuted. It is the magic of Tesla. Even if you don’t particularly like Elon Musk or care about electric cars, you’ve got to give some credit to how Tesla has led the EV zeitgeist and is only distancing itself from the rest of the pack.