Tesla's Seat Heaven – The Tesla Cloud Seat



Published on April 22, 2019 |
by Zachary Shahan

April 22, 2019 by Zachary Shahan

If you've ever driven a Tesla vehicle equipped with the company's white vegan leather seats, you've surely been impressed. They are soft as a cloud. They are as white as Conan O'Brien's grandmother (I guess). Beyond the smooth surface, they are so cushy that you feel like you're sitting on marshmallow. And on a cold day, they will grill your buns faster than a light roadrunner can climb a mountain.

They are nice.

(The blacks are fine too, by the way, but the whites are on another level.)

Some people are not interested in seating. To these people, I say – to wake up! The seats are half of the experience of driving in a car. Pay attention to what you are going to sit on for years before spending $ 40,000 on a boring vehicle. (You can also consider spending tens of thousands of dollars on a boring vehicle and choosing a fun vehicle, but that's another story.)

I knew some information about the Tesla seats before going on a tour of the Tesla seat factory last month. I knew that I loved them, I knew that there were black and white options and I knew that they were vegan. I learned soooooo much more in the one-of-a-kind, one-of-a-kind seat factory that I'm sure to come back to on this topic several times.

CleanTechnicaThe tour of the production plant began with a walk in the cafeteria and, although it may seem out of place, it goes to the heart of the matter. All this work is to help humanity. The cafeteria was packed up with people. Tesla employs so many different people and an impressive proportion of them are smiling and enthusiastic. They seem to release positive energy, which shows that they are happy to do their part to help humanity, to help society, to help all types of life that breathes in our little ball. It's something that struck me in all of Tesla's installations.

Of course, there must be people who do not like to go to work on Monday, but one of the most striking teachings of the half-day tour is that all the noise, negativity and meaning of the "Crisis" around Tesla dissipate Enter the doors and walls of Tesla. This is a stark contrast to what you see in the press. This gives you hope to witness this. No matter what is happening outside and how others are trying to shape the story, it's good to see that Tesla is a positive, optimistic, uplifting and inspiring place. I did look for disgruntled workers, but I did not see anybody who fits this bill.

I understand that some people think I'm going to show a sincere bias, but honestly, I do not think that's the case. I try to understand the story as completely and accurately as possible in order to pass it on to anyone who wants to learn, who reads CleanTechnica. If there are any concerns, I want to know – and we publish about it when they show up. But what I find many times with Tesla is: the more you dig, the more inspiration and hope. This contrasts so much with what most media publish about Tesla. Because we do not follow the rhythm of the big media, CleanTechnica ends up looking, like some readers, that this is far from the norm and presumably biased. It does not matter that we end up being right on many issues, the mainstream media are so wrong. Our view is that, for a variety of reasons, there is extreme bias against what Tesla has achieved, produced and produced. Therefore, we must go out of their way to try to tell the real story in the middle of a giant smog of nonsense, even sometimes erase this smog from our sleeves so that our own understanding is in tune with reality. But it's just a tangent to react preventively to paid or unpaid trolls who do not like the stories we present. (Sometimes you have to use the meta in these cases.) Let's go back to the seats.

When Kyle Field, Chanan Bos and I drove up to the seat factory, I thought it would be an interesting and useful visit, as many consumers are very concerned about the seats of the company. A car. However, I did not initially expect amazing discoveries. And let's be honest, the sky did not open and the unicorns did not rain when we walked around the factory. But we learned some fascinating facts.

First of all, car manufacturers are usually do not seat producers. In fact, I do not think that other reputable car manufacturers produce their own seats. There are apparently four major car seat producers in the world.

If you're like me, you see the small number of fouryou think, "Wow, it's a semi-monopolistic level." It is not so difficult for the leaders of some dinner seating companies and make sure they do not run to the end with the prices. The conspiracy theory aside, however, it's just not a very competitive market, and Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, tends to be supportive of cutting these markets in order to dramatically reduce costs and accelerate innovation. I do not know if that was the main purpose of including the production of seats, and I did not speak at length to the seating engineers who guided us through the factory, but I guess it was at least half a day. important factor in the additional vertical integration.

The very unusual vertical integration of Tesla is a fascinating subject. As with all important business decisions, there are potential risks and benefits. We at CleanTechnica We're still reconstructing the more general story of Tesla's ongoing vertical integration and how it works, but the best starting point is a presentation Marc Tarpenning gave several years ago.

Tarpenning was one of the five co-founders of Tesla. His presentation was on YouTube for years, but my last check was gone. I therefore regret not being able to tell you the exact words, but in particular he pointed out that car manufacturers are increasingly outsourcing more and more of working for decades. His basic message was that their expertise had been greatly reduced to engines – and glue the different parts of the car together.

The most important point to remember is that it was very difficult for car manufacturers to turn to an electric future because of petrol / diesel engine technology:

  • their basic skill,
  • their main area of ​​competitiveness,
  • where executives built their career, and
  • where much of the intellectual property and capital investments of companies had been sunk.

However, it seems to me that this subcontracting has broader ramifications. As mentioned above, the production of seats has finally been replaced by a semi-monopoly trio. This limits car manufacturers' options regarding the constant customization of seats according to their needs and the comments of the owners. It also does not offer them many opportunities to realize cost savings – it's in the hands of the suppliers. For its part, Tesla, as in other areas of its manufacture, obsessively seeks to improve the efficiency of its investments, reduce costs, improve the quality of its seats and be at the forefront of the design of car seats.

An example of this optimization process is a somewhat hilarious and fascinating anecdote about the rambling improvements that engineers continually find. Part of the production chain of seats now takes 33 seconds. Those 33 seconds were a target for months. On the way to this target, an engineer discovered that the company could save about a second by blowing a bolt on the tool at the end of the robot's arm rather than letting the robot take it on a rail. The engineer had the idea to pull the cylinder head through a tube, which looks a bit like the big tube of a car vacuum cleaner (the one found in some service stations). Then, a little later, the team realized that it could still improve this result and reduce the production time by 0.8 seconds with a small change. Instead of pulling the bolt to the end, he now pulls the bolt halfway, where it rests in the tube. (Inside the tube, it rests on the floor so that it looks as if it was accidentally left.) When the robot is ready, the latch on the floor is transported faster (0.8 seconds). more quickly) to the seat and another lock is shot in the position where it was. Lost again? We show this better in the video tour to the top of this article.

During the last press conference with the press, Elon Musk called the production process of model 3 a "game of pennies", but one of the engineers I talked to talked about "playing seconds". That's how they see it.

It's one thing after another, like that. This part of the line is the only production process of such seating in the world using the robots that it uses – the world's first fully automated seat cushion production line.

In another area, Tesla uses state-of-the-art remote laser welding technology and other innovative solutions to optimize the production system (ie reduce production time). Some solutions go beyond the default process. Some areas of the factory seat are highly automated, while others have the human impression of being well trained at the dojo of the company. (Seriously.) These employees are supported through thoughtful ergonomic systems and planning models. (Note: I predict that some of them will become world-class massage therapists.)

The production lines are very flexible and can very quickly alternate the necessary color seats. There are also slight differences in the regulation of seats from one continent to another, but Tesla is again able to move from one design to another.

The crew of the plant managed to get out of the initial seat line of the model 3 production volumes well above the initial forecasts. Originally, the goal was 5,000 per week, but they now have the comfortable ability to produce 7,000 model 3 seats a week – and the team has proven it can do more than that in a week with the existing line. This shows how Tesla engineers and production optimizations are customizing default systems to improve capital efficiency. The same equipment can now be used to produce many more products than expected, which means a lot more money for the same capital investment.

The plant has space to add another seat production line, which could theoretically double current capacity. Let it flow for a moment. This is an improvement of 40% or more compared to what was originally planned at the plant. Imagine that you have a complicated lemonade machine that, in your opinion, could produce 10,000 cups of lemonade a day, but can now produce 14,000 cups of lemonade.

At the end of the visit, one of the guides, enthusiastic – with a sincere voice and enthusiasm – said that the seat production facility was unmatched in the world. He was certain and very happy with what they had accomplished. I thanked him and others for their service to society. After all, the goal of Tesla is not to simply create marshmallow seats on which humans can sit, not to earn money for money. Tesla has a mission beyond, which blends in with the working population (certainly not all employees, but certainly many people we've talked to). Tesla is a mission-driven company that is trying to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy, because the future of human society depends tremendously on our ability to do so. The company is facing an existential crisis and Tesla is one of those companies that strive to raise awareness and upgrade technology daily to avoid the worst of this crisis.

Going back to another company policy which Kyle and I will discuss in other articles, Tesla still works in a similar way to that of a startup. Elon encourages engineers to take risks if they have a moderate (~ 60%) chance of success and improvement. This allows – or stimulates – the recovery solutions that employees find throughout the system. This boosts the kind of changes that result in a 60% improvement in the production capacity of a line. That's the kind of thing that leads to the CFO's retirement, Deepak Ahuja, which points out at least two Tesla teleconferences for which Tesla is extremely efficient in terms of capital, more than any other automaker he's worked for. I've noticed that he's been attending two conference calls in recent years, while trying to explain this, while trying to explain in a few lines what many engineers do every day under Elon's management to try to make Tesla not only a gold medalist, but also the absolute best to what he does. The goal may not be perfection, but to get as close as possible to perfection as quickly as possible.

I will finish on this piece by returning to the seats themselves. These are, in my opinion, the two things that led to Tesla's unexpected position in another part of the 21st century automobile. First, Tesla launched into the seating market with the Model X. The company faced unusual challenges due to the unique design of the X. The suppliers were not able to provide what Tesla wanted to. Tesla has entrusted this part of the process internally. Finally, the challenge of the X model (which many people think – wrongly in my opinion – was too unique and experimental) – led Tesla to become a world-class seat producer.

The company is no longer linked to the mercy of one of the "3 biggest" in the world. It can design seats to meet the needs and bespoke opportunities of Tesla buyers and the powertrain. Tesla can make sure there are several options for the supplies in the seats and can work with these suppliers to make their work more sustainable. The company does not have to fear that a delivery of seats will happen and will crush some production projects, as has happened much earlier in the past at Tesla (and this has already happened with other car manufacturers).

Yes, this vertical integration has a cost. There is a capital cost for the production lines and an operational cost to pay the workers and designers of the plant. This is the kind of thing that many Tesla investors like to see. It is a company looking for every opportunity to innovate in order to make customers happier and reduce the prices of attractive vehicles to zero emissions.

The last note in this story is about how vegan leather seats have come into Tesla's evolution. I think there were two annual meetings of shareholders during which vegan investor activists had the chance to get up and ask – very politely of course – for Tesla to assume a role leader in the production of vegan vehicles. They pushed to take off the leather of every part of Tesla's cars, seats with ruffles. At the last meeting at which the activists received the microphone, the lady pointed out that studies had revealed that vegan faux leather was objectively a better option: it could be softer, more durable, more resistant to stains and more preferred customers (vegans or not). ). Elon said he would look into the situation – or that one of the team members would do it. Eventually, this led to the incredible "cloud seats" that many Tesla drivers and passengers enjoy today.

The vegan black leather seats are great too, but it's not fair. enough as sweet. Apparently, this faux leather comes from a different supplier and uses a different chemistry that gives slightly different qualities. To be honest, some people may not even notice a difference beyond color, but I'm not one of those people. That said, the color of the seats I would choose would depend more than the color of the exterior paint. ?

Tesla, like many companies, is a fan of consumer reviews. Elon sometimes uses Twitter to launch ideas for new products and improve existing products. Hundreds or thousands of others work behind the scenes to collect such comments and direct it to the appropriate engineers, designers, and executives. It seems that vegans are not discriminated against.

The next time you drive your Tesla or drive in a Tesla ShuttleI hope you will think about this article about the Tesla seat production plant and will be happy to understand a little more about what happened to your unconditional supporter.

Keywords: Tesla, Tesla Factories, Tesla Fremont Factory, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model 3 Seats, Tesla Model 3 White Plant Leather, Tesla Seats, Tesla Vegan Leather Seats, Vegan Leather, White Vegetable Leather

About the author

Zachary Shahan Zach tries to help the society to help herself (and other species). He spends most of his time here CleanTechnica as director and editor. He is also the president of Important media and the director / founder of Obsession EV and Solar love. Zach is recognized worldwide as an expert in electric vehicles, solar energy and energy storage. He has lectured on clean technologies at conferences in India, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada.

Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG and ABB. After years devoted to sun protection and electric vehicles, he simply has confidence in these companies and has the impression that they are good clean tech companies in which to invest. it does not offer any professional investment advice and can not be held responsible for your loss of money, so do not rush.

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