Munro and Associates Offers a Detailed Look of How the Front Seats of the Tesla Model Y Are Bolted to its Battery in New Video

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【Summary】The Tesla Model Y SUV built in Austin, Texas is equipped with a structural battery pack using new 4680 battery cells. But the design of battery, which includes the vehicle's front seats and center console, is one of the reasons that electric automaker is leading the auto industry in EV engineering. A new video from automotive consulting firm Munro and Associates provides a detailed first look of the unique design.

Eric Walz    Aug 12, 2022 11:00 AM PT
Munro and Associates Offers a Detailed Look of How the Front Seats of the Tesla Model Y Are Bolted to its Battery in New Video
The seats of the mid-2022 Tesla Model Y are bolted to the battery. (Photo: Sawyer Merritt)

Tesla vehicles often undergo design changes in order to simplify production or make vehicle improvements to improve build quality. For example, the new Tesla Model Y SUV being built in Austin, Texas since May is equipped with a structural battery pack containing the automaker's new 4680 battery cells. But its the design of the battery that's one of its most unique features of any vehicle ever made and one of the reasons Tesla is leading the industry in EV engineering.

For the mid-2022 Model Y being built at Tesla's new gigafactory in Texas, the front seats are bolted directly to the structural battery pack. During production, the entire pre-assembled battery pack along with the front seats are installed in the vehicle using 38 bolts located around the perimeter of the battery pack.

The entire battery assembly weighs roughly 1,198 lbs, according to Michigan-based automotive engineering and consulting firm Munro and Associates, which recently performed a detailed teardown of a 2022 Model Y built in May in Texas.

Munro is well known for documenting Tesla's advanced vehicle engineering with detailed teardowns that are carefully documented. The company's latest video offers a detailed first look at Tesla's new structural battery pack for the Model Y.

The Model Y battery with the attached seats and center console was first unveiled in Oct 2021 at Tesla's Berlin gigafactory and again at Tesla's Cyber Rodeo event in Texas this past April. But the recent Munro video offers a more detailed look on how its designed.

Munro and Associates performs detailed teardowns of production vehicles in order to analyze their construction. These detailed engineering teardowns are then sold to automakers and suppliers who use the information to make design improvements and cut production costs.

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Munro and Associates removing the Model Y's battery pack from below with the seats and center console still attached.

Automakers typically outfit a vehicle's cabin with the seats carpeting and dashboard towards the final stages of vehicle assembly. But Tesla bolts the front seats of the Model Y to a steel support structure on top of the battery pack before it's installed in the vehicle, along with the carpeting, center console and other low-voltage electric connections.

Structural battery packs are a new design for EVs, they allow for the heavy battery to serve as structural support, which better protects the batteries as well as occupants in the event of a collision. For the redesigned Model Y, the front seat occupants are basically sitting atop the battery, which is then surrounded by the rest of the body and chassis.

In the recent video published on YouTube, Munro President Cory Stueben and Lead Engineer Julian Aytes walk viewers through the production steps and components of the Model Y's battery, as well explaining how Tesla installs the entire assembly in the vehicle during production, seats and all. Needless to say, its impressive and a fascinating piece of automotive engineering. 

"When we dropped this (battery) from the car it literally drew a crowd of 30 to 40 people at Munro," said Steuben. "It is something we haven't seen, really ever."

Steuben identified a production identification label affixed to the battery with the internal part number "MY_ GFT- GA1 - SOP". The letters SOP stand for "Seat-on-Pack."

When Munro's team first saw the Model Y's new structural battery with the front seats attached, it captured their attention, Steuben explained.

At the time, company CEO Sandy Munro pointed out to Stuben that Tesla was installing the seats and carpeting onto the battery first, then installing the entire assembly in the vehicle. Steuben was a bit skeptical, as this had never been done before in the auto industry. The two made a friendly bet on who was correct, which Steuben lost.

"When we first saw these seats on the pack, there was no way they were going to mount the seats and the center console then shove it up in the car," Stueben recalled saying to CEO Sandy Munro. But that's exactly what Tesla was doing.

The stamped steel top cover of the battery assembly is a dual purpose component. It's designed to protect the cells, but it also serves as the cabin floor of the Model Y. With the pack removed, the entire floor is just an open space. Standing under the Model Y on a lift, you can see out through the glass sunroof.

"It's absolutely mind blowing to be standing under a vehicle on a hoist and have absolutely nothing for the floor structure," said Steuben. 

"At Munro and Associates, we've seen the evolution of the auto industry for the past 30 to 40 years,'' said Stueben about the unique design. "The level of refinement and integration is incredible."

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A view from underneath the Model Y with its structural battery pack removed.

Steuben said that Munro and Associates will continue to tear down the Model Y to document the incremental vehicle improvements being introduced by Tesla. Other design changes for the mid-2022 Model Y are improved high-voltage cable routing in the "frunk".

"Tesla is continually improving and we're going to document all of those micro-level improvements. "It is this level of improvement and this level of integration that we love to find."

The next steps for Munro are to further disable the new Model Y's battery pack to see how the individual cells are arranged. However, this step could prove more difficult. 

The older battery design of the Model Y uses a top stamped steel cover that's bolted to the bottom cover. The top can be easily lifted by removing all of the bolts. But the new cover in the 2022 Model Y uses self-tapping rivets that are more difficult to remove without damaging the battery housing.

In the near future, Munro and Associates plans to produce another 6 to 10 video episodes that highlight the advanced engineering of the Model Y.

Munro is also selling new individual 4680 battery cells from the Austin-built Model Y for $800 each to Tesla fans that want to own a piece of the company's history. Each 4680 Model Y cell will come in a small glass jar in epoxy and a custom card that identifies the cell's uniqueness. 

Munro and Associates also performed a teardown of the Model 3 when it was released in 2018.

You can view the entire video below:

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