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Tesla's Next Gen Compact Vehicle // Stainless Steel vs Paint

发布时间 2024-04-16 21:59:28    来源


Will Tesla's Next Gen Compact Vehicle use stainless steel or paint? Or will it use plastic or a new coating technique? Today I'll ...



Welcome back everyone, I'm Jordan Geisigee and this is The Limiting Factor. Since Tesla unveiled the unboxed process to produce their third-generation vehicle platform last year, there's been a lot of speculation about whether vehicles using that process and platform, such as the Robotaxian Compact Vehicle, would be painted or use stainless steel like the Cybertruck. That speculation intensified when Matthew Donnegan Ryan confirmed a couple of days later that he spoke with Tom Jew of Tesla and asked if the third-generation vehicles would be painted or stainless steel, to which Tom reportedly replied with a smirk and said, paint is expensive. And of course, beyond stainless steel or paint, there are also people who believe that plastic may be the best option for Tesla's future vehicles. So who's correct? Today I'll walk you through the positives and negatives of paint, stainless steel, and plastic, and which I think is the most likely based on factors like cost, manufacturing speed, scalability, and broad customer appeal.
大家好,欢迎回来,我是乔丹·盖西吉(Jordan Geisigee),这里是《限制因素》。自特斯拉去年公布了生产第三代车辆平台的未包装过程以来,关于使用该过程和平台的车辆,比如机器人出租车紧凑型车辆,是否会像Cybertruck一样涂漆或使用不锈钢,引发了许多猜测。当马修·多尼根·瑞恩(Matthew Donnegan Ryan)几天后证实他与特斯拉的汤姆·杰伊(Tom Jew)交谈,并询问第三代车辆是否会涂漆或使用不锈钢时,汤姆据说冷笑着回答说涂漆很贵。当然,除了不锈钢或涂漆,也有人认为塑料可能是特斯拉未来车辆的最佳选择。那么谁是对的呢?今天我将为您介绍涂漆、不锈钢和塑料的优缺点,以及我基于成本、制造速度、可扩展性和广泛顾客吸引力等因素认为哪种可能性最大。

Before we begin, a special thanks to my Patreon supporters, YouTube members and Twitter subscribers, as well as RebellionAir.com. They specialize in helping investors manage concentrated positions. There can help with covered calls, risk management, and creating a money master plan from your financial first principles. Additionally, for this video, I'd like to thank Scott Walter and Dr. Noedal for debating the advantages and disadvantages of these technologies with me on X. I highly recommend following Scott and Dr. Noedal on X if you're interested in engineering and manufacturing. I hope that each of us had different views on which material was the best for vehicle bodies, and that this video contains my conclusions after doing my own research. But as usual, I'll share my assumptions along the way so you can form your own view.
在我们开始之前,特别感谢我的Patreon支持者、YouTube会员和Twitter订阅者,以及RebellionAir.com。他们专门帮助投资者管理集中持仓。他们可以提供有关备兑认购、风险管理,以及根据您的金融第一原则制定财务规划。另外,在这个视频中,我要感谢Scott Walter和Dr.Noedal与我在X上就这些技术的优缺点进行辩论。如果您对工程和制造感兴趣,我强烈建议关注Scott和Dr.Noedal在X上的动态。希望我们每个人对哪种材料最适合车身有不同看法,本视频包含了我在做了自己的研究后得出的结论。但像往常一样,我会在过程中分享我的假设,让您自己形成看法。

Let's first look at how much it costs to paint a vehicle. A quick Google search usually returns this article from A's own materials as the first hit, which states that painting a vehicle makes up 30% of the production cost. But if that were true, it would mean that the paint job of the average Tesla would cost about $12,000 at the factory. That obviously can't be right because a showroom quality paint job at an aftermarket paint shop can cost as little as $2,500. A paint job from the factory should be cheaper because it's automated and uses high throughput high efficiency processes.
让我们首先看看给车辆喷漆的成本。通过快速的谷歌搜索,你通常会看到 A 公司的一篇文章,其中指出车辆喷漆占据了生产成本的30%。但如果这是真的,那意味着一个普通特斯拉的喷漆作业在工厂里大约要花费12000美元。显然这不可能,因为一个售后喷漆店的高质量喷漆作业可能仅需2500美元。工厂里的喷漆应该更便宜,因为它是自动化的,并且使用了高吞吐高效率的工艺。

For digging a bit deeper, I found a presentation published by Fraunhofer in 2011 that indicated a paint cost of 3-500 euros per unit. Fraunhofer is an industrial research institute, so that cost range is likely to be about as accurate as we can get. But given that it was in euros and over a decade old, I adjusted for inflation and converted to US dollars and arrived at $630 to $1,050 per unit. His third-generation vehicle platform is expected to include a robo-taxi that may or may not be sold to the public, and a vehicle that costs about $25,000 that is sold to the public.
为了深入了解一些细节,我找到了Fraunhofer在2011年发布的一份报告,其中指出每单位涂料成本为3-500欧元。Fraunhofer是一个工业研究所,所以这个成本范围可能是我们能得到的最准确的数据。但考虑到这是以欧元表示且已有十多年的历史,我考虑了通货膨胀并转换成美元,得出每单位为630至1050美元。 他的第三代车辆平台预计将包括一款可能或可能不会向公众销售的机器人出租车,以及一辆成本约为25,000美元的面向公众销售的车辆。

To keep things simple, given that both of those are likely to be low-cost, small vehicles, let's refer to them singularly as the compact vehicle. For a compact vehicle, we'd likely be looking at the lower end of the $630 to $1,050 range for paint cost. Let's say $700 per vehicle. However, Tesla's unboxed process should reduce the cost of painting the vehicle significantly. Why is that? In a conventional vehicle manufacturing line, the vehicle body is assembled into what you might call a box and then painted. The painting process typically takes about 10 hours, and there are over a dozen coating, drying, and baking steps as well as spot repairs and polishing.

Each of those steps involves working in and around that box-like structure that's mostly empty space, which reduces the manufacturing density and speed and increases energy usage because there's more empty space to heat when the parts go through the drying ovens. Tesla's unboxed process breaks the box down into pieces that are manufactured in parallel on several lines, which is why it's called the unboxed process. That means that for the painting process, the parts could be put onto racks that contain less empty space, which should increase throughput and energy efficiency in the paint shop. Fraunhofer indicates that the material cost for painting a vehicle is 20% of the total cost, so 80% of the cost of painting the vehicle is non-materials costs that have to do with throughput and energy consumption.

With that in mind, in my view, it wouldn't be a stretch for Tesla to reduce the non-material costs of the paint shop to 40% by doubling the throughput of the paint shop. If we keep the materials cost at 20% and add the 40%, the total is 60%. 60% of the $700 paint cost I quoted earlier gives us a grand total of $420 to paint Tesla's compact vehicle using the unboxed process. The next question is, how much would a vehicle with a stainless steel exterior cost? This is where we enter into more speculative territory because as far as I'm aware, there's no publicly available information on the cost of a stainless steel vehicle body. The stainless steel Tesla uses has been described as ultra-hard 30x cold-rolled stainless steel, and we know it comes in coils thanks to Sandy-Mon-Rose tour of the Cybertruck body line.

With rolled 300-series stainless steel coils, costs between $3,000 to $5,000 per ton. Despite the fact that Tesla's ordering a custom formulation of stainless steel specifically for the Cybertruck, let's say they're still getting their steel at the low end of the price range at $3,000 per ton. The outer body of Tesla's vehicles typically use mild steel, and steel costs about $900 per ton. So at the same production rate and material thickness, using ultra-hard stainless steel could cost about 3.3x as much. How much would that add to the production cost of a compact vehicle? For a vehicle that has a sticker price of about $25,000, the total production cost for a conventional painted body would be about $20,000.

The materials cost for the body of that vehicle would be about $565. But of course, two-thirds of that would be body structures like the aluminum giga-castings. That leaves one-third of the cost of producing the vehicle body for components like the door rings and body panels. One-third of $565 is $186. Then we have to multiply 186 by 3.3 because that's how many times more expensive stainless steel is than mild steel. Which means that for a $25,000 vehicle, all else being equal, the materials cost for stainless steel would be about $614. For a vehicle like the Cybertruck, that works out well for two reasons.

First, because the Cybertruck is a truck and people are willing to pay a premium for durability. And second, because using ultra-hard and ultra-thick sheet metal on the exterior of the vehicle allowed them to remove the weight and cost of a typical truck frame, so it somewhat balanced out. However, rigidity and towing capacity wouldn't be a requirement for a compact vehicle, so the cost premium wouldn't be worth it. That means if Tesla did use a stainless steel exterior for a compact vehicle, they'd have to use much thinner sheet metal to make it cost effective. Typically, the exterior sheet metal of a vehicle is about 0.9 millimeters thick, and stainless steel sheet metal is usually available as thin as about 0.25 millimeters thick.

Let's say that Tesla's ultra-hard stainless steel is so strong that they're able to use steel that thin. 0.25 millimeters is 28% of 0.9 millimeters. As I said earlier, for a vehicle with a manufacturing cost of $20,000, the materials cost of moving to stainless steel would be $614. If that vehicle used stainless steel sheet metal that was 28% as thick as standard sheet metal, the materials cost would tally up to $172. Given that the materials cost of standard sheet metal was $186, that means the materials cost of using ultra-thin stainless steel. If that's possible, it's so close that it would be effectively the same. But it wouldn't need to be painted, which, as I said earlier, would be about $420. Does that mean a stainless steel compact vehicle would cost about $420 less than a painted vehicle to manufacture? Not necessarily.
让我们假设特斯拉的超硬不锈钢是如此坚固,以至于他们能够使用那么薄的钢板。 0.25毫米是0.9毫米的28%。正如我之前所说,对于一个制造成本为20000美元的车辆,转向不锈钢的材料成本将为614美元。如果该车辆使用的不锈钢板材比标准板材厚度的28%,那么材料成本将相加到172美元。鉴于标准板材的材料成本为186美元,这意味着使用超薄不锈钢板的材料成本。如果可能的话,这种成本非常接近,几乎可以看做是一样的。但是它不需要喷漆,而喷漆的成本大约为420美元,就像我之前所说的。这是否意味着不锈钢车辆的制造成本将比喷漆车辆节省大约420美元?并非如此。

We haven't yet taken into account the manufacturing costs for stainless steel and only looked at materials costs. Tesla's ultra-hard stainless steel is so hard that it has to be cut with lasers. That's as opposed to regular steel, which can be cut rapidly using blanking dies, which stamp out the metal parts like a cookie cutter. A process that uses laser blanking is typically slower than a process that uses blanking dies. But it also tends to have lower tooling costs. Taking all factors into account, the end result is that below 100,000 units per year, laser blanking is more cost effective. And above 100,000 units per year, blanking dies are more cost effective.

Some might point out that the Cybertruck line in Texas is expected to produce 125,000 units per year initially, and probably more like 250,000 or more units per year in the long run, which of course uses laser blanking. That is, the 100,000 unit per year rule of thumb doesn't seem to apply. That's true, but the Cybertruck is a premium vehicle that can afford the extra cost of laser cut body panels from a slower process. Tesla's upcoming compact vehicle is a different story. Every penny will count, and ultra-high production rates will be needed, because it will likely be produced at volumes of over 2 million vehicles per year. For reference, Tesla's Model Y lines are capable of topping out at 500,000 vehicles per year. So, I expect that the compact vehicle lines will be capable of at least 500,000 vehicles per year, and possibly up to a million vehicles per year. With production rates that high, blanking dies appear to be the way to go.

Next, besides the costs associated with laser blanking, we also have to take into account the fact that although stainless steel doesn't require a paint shop, it still does in fact require dozens of robots and has some material costs. In short, some of the inner stampings such as the door rings have to be powder coated, and the customer-facing surfaces have their own finishing process. That finishing process involves laser cleaning the welds on the inside of the door panels, and a two-step abrasion and polishing process for the exterior panels to create an appealing surface finish. With all those cost variables in mind, in my view, it's unlikely that using stainless steel would save $420 per vehicle over a vehicle that was painted, and in fact would likely cost more. But even if there is a minor cost savings with stainless steel, there are other factors to take into account. The first one that comes to mind for me is that because the compact vehicle will be Tesla's highest volume vehicle ever, Tesla will seek to de-risk the supply chain as much as possible. As I said earlier, the stainless steel that Tesla uses in the Cybertruck is a custom formulation of their own invention. That means it can't just be purchased off the shelf and has to be special ordered. That's as opposed to the mild steel used in a conventional vehicle that's available on the open market as a commodity.

As an interim summary, what all this means is that in my view, although Tesla could make the compact vehicle out of stainless steel, I don't see it as a strong possibility unless they can find a way to increase the throughput and reduce the cost of laser cutting. I don't see that as a showstopper, and it's obviously not an issue for the Cybertruck, but for a budget ultra-high production volume vehicle, the dynamics are different. Line speed and other factors like de-risking the supply chain become more important. With all that said, there's what I see as likely based on manufacturability, and then there's what's best based on the specific use case. Earlier, I said that the compact vehicle was actually two vehicles, a robo-taxi that may not be sold to customers, and a $25,000 budget vehicle that is sold to customers. Tesla could, for example, paint the budget vehicle and use stainless steel for the robo-taxi. That could work out well for several reasons. First, because a robo-taxi might benefit from the greater durability of stainless steel even at a greater cost. Second, the angular look of stainless steel might be too polarizing for most consumers as a vehicle they purchase, but for a robo-taxi, appearance and customization wouldn't matter as much, because people would be more likely to ride in a robo-taxi than own it. In fact, it might be better if the robo-taxi looks a little strange and iconic, so people know it's a robo-taxi. In contrast, for the budget vehicle, cost, aesthetics that have brought appeal, and customization would be a greater priority. Yes, a stainless steel budget vehicle could offer a wrap at the service centers, but it would be several times more expensive as just offering multiple paint color choices from the factory.

Now that we've covered painting and stainless steel as options for the exterior of the compact vehicle, it's worth covering plastic because I'm sure it'll come up in the comments. Plastic would be an excellent option for the compact vehicle, whether that's a robo-taxi or a $25,000 vehicle. That's because plastic is lightweight, durable, cheap, scalable, can offer more than one color choice and is recyclable. However, there are also some arguments against it. For example, why did Saturn abandon the use of plastic body panels after attempting to make them work for almost 20 years? According to Bob Lutz, a former GM executive, it was because the plastic panels actually took longer to produce than conventional stamped steel, and they would expand and contract when the temperature changed, which meant wide panel gaps had to be designed into the vehicle. Despite efforts to reduce the expansion and contraction issues, the problem was never resolved. There's a chance Tesla could solve the panel gap and production issues, but that would still leave other issues to be resolved.

For example, with regards to recyclability, although Tesla could use recyclable plastic, that doesn't mean it would be recycled. Even for plastics that are highly recyclable, they're often just downcycled instead and still end up back in the environment. That's as opposed to steel, which is the most recycled material in the world because it's easy to reprocess and magnetically separate from other material. Yes, Tesla could put in place logistics to ensure the plastic panels did get recycled if the recycling market didn't take up the challenge, but is that an additional challenge that Tesla wants to take on? Lastly, although many people are happy to have a vehicle with plastic body panels, it's a turn off for some customers that perceive metal as being higher quality. What all this means is that although plastic might technically be the best material from an engineering standpoint, it might reduce product appeal and create logistics issues with recycling for and of life vehicles. Those are both important considerations if Tesla intends on making their compact vehicle the most manufactured vehicle in history.

Now that we've covered paint, stainless steel and plastic, what about Tom Joo's comment that paint is expensive? It's not uncommon for Tesla's executive team to make comments and for people to read way too much into them, or for those comments to end up being proved incorrect because Tesla changed their mind. For example, Tom Joo also said that Tesla was aiming for Gigamexico to be up and running faster than any other Gigafactory in the past. The reality is that Gigamexico may take longer than expected to build out because Tesla stated that they've decided to slow down investment in anticipation of a weak global economy. Beyond that, I'm not placing a lot of weight on Tom's comment because at Investor Day, Tesla went out of their way to mention the paint shop when discussing the unboxed process. They said, quote, what this means is that it's going to look something like this, where we build all the sides of the cars independently. We only paint what we need to and then we assemble the car once, end quote. Investor Day was a prepared presentation whereas Tom's comment was offhand and ambiguous, so I placed greater weight on the presentation. With that said, there is one more possibility that Tom's comment may hint to that doesn't contradict the presentation. He said the paint shop was expensive.

What if instead of switching to stainless steel to remove the paint shop, he's hinting that Tesla may have found an alternative way to offer color options for vehicles that dramatically reduces the size of the paint shop. I don't know what that would look like, but at first glance, the complexity and hassle of the paint shop appears to be ripe for disruption. For me, that would be the most exciting possibility because it offers the best of all worlds. A better coding process for vehicles that uses a conventional stamping process with mild steel or aluminum would maximize speed, scalability, recyclability, customer appeal, cost, and customization all in one hit.

In summary, whether Tesla chooses paint, stainless steel, or plastic for the body of the upcoming compact vehicle, each has strengths and weaknesses. With that in mind, I'd choose the process that seems the most closely aligned with what I view as the key requirements for the compact vehicle, which are cost, manufacturing speed, scalability, and broad customer appeal. For me, that makes paint the most likely option. Although paint shops are a huge expense, costing around half a billion dollars and are a pain to set up, they're capable of high production rates and low cost per vehicle. With Tesla's unboxed process, the production rate will only get faster and the cost will only go lower. Additionally, offering color options presents a revenue opportunity.

As Elon has said, it only costs an extra $55 to apply a high-end, multi-layer paint job, but adds around $550 of value to a vehicle. That's a 90% margin upsell for no real impact on production speed. As for stainless steel, to me it seems less likely because it's a slower process thanks to laser-cut sheet metal. Tesla's stainless steel that has to be special ordered, and it makes it much more difficult and expensive for the customer to customize their vehicle. As for plastic, it's the best option from an engineering perspective, but it may have a lower perceived quality and appeal than painted sheet metal.

And although recyclable may be less likely to be recycled than steel, lastly, the fourth option is a wild card, which is that Tesla surprises us with a vehicle that uses mild steel or aluminum sheet metal. And a new coating or painting process that's cheaper than a typical paint shop and has even higher throughput, which would be the best option. If you enjoyed this video, please consider supporting the channel by using the links in the description.

Also, consider following me on X. I often use X as a test bed for sharing ideas, and X subscribers like my Patreon supporters generally get access to my videos a week early. On that note, a special thanks to Donald Beck, my YouTube members, X subscribers, and all the other patrons listed in the credits. I appreciate all of your support, and thanks for tuning in. Thanks for watching!.
另外,请考虑关注我在X上的账号。我经常在X上分享想法,并且X的订阅者(例如我的 Patreon 支持者)通常可以提前一周观看我的视频。在这里,特别感谢 Donald Beck、我的 YouTube 会员、X的订阅者以及名单中列出的所有其他赞助者。非常感谢大家的支持,谢谢收看!谢谢观看!。