Of all the improvements Tesla has introduced to the auto business, not the minimum major is the unified laptop or computer architecture utilised in its vehicles. This has enabled many of the great Tesla-only functions that house owners rave about, and it is not much too considerably to say that it is been one particular of the company’s best aggressive advantages. Now latest events are highlighting what could be one more significant gain.
Higher than: A seem inside of the Tesla Product 3 (Source: Tesla)
While looking into my guide, Tesla: How Elon Musk and Company Created Electric powered Vehicles Great, and Remade the Automotive and Electricity Industries, I was fortunate to be ready to interview Tesla co-founder Ian Wright, who offered some keen insights about Tesla’s techniques strategy to its software program, and this turned out to be one particular of my preferred parts of the guide. I’ve referred to it in at least a dozen article content, and many thanks to the ongoing semiconductor lack, it seems like I’m likely to get some a lot more mileage out of it.
The young Tesla experienced roots in the Silicon Valley tech business, and its autos were being made with a one personal computer functioning process from the beginning. This was the opposite of the way the legacy automakers were (and primarily even now are) executing points. A usual legacy motor vehicle has a patchwork of different desktops that control different programs in the vehicle. “I’m hunting out the window at my 2008 Volkswagen Touareg, and I bet that is obtained sixty or seventy electronic black packing containers, three hundred kilos of wiring harness, and application from twenty different organizations in it,” Ian Wright instructed me in 2014.
Consultancy Roland Berger lately told Bloomberg that automakers need to have to redesign automobiles to use much less semiconductors. Automakers are hoping that the hated chip shortage will wind down before long, but Roland Berger predicts that intense bottlenecks will persist by means of 2022.
“Carmakers need to velocity up the transition to centralized electronic architectures and therefore go to superior and main-edge nodes,” the analysts claimed in a the latest report. A shift to a central style and design with a single onboard computer could substantially decrease the range of chips necessary in a auto. Roland Berger suggests the ordinary car consists of some 1,400 individual chips.
Of course, audience, my interview with Ian Wright took put seven years ago. He informed me that the legacy automakers were “struggling” with the application design and style in their motor vehicles, and that if they continued to do matters that way, they were being “going to have a problem.” Perfectly, now they have major challenges. The consulting organization AlixPartners approximated that the chip crunch cost the automobile industry some $210 billion in dropped income in 2021.
Earlier mentioned: A appear into the world-wide chip scarcity (YouTube: Wall Avenue Journal)
Yet another situation is that legacy automakers never are likely to use the latest and greatest chips. Section of the motive for the provide crunch is that chipmakers aren’t fascinated in increasing the source of the older-era semiconductors that are utilised in most vehicles. If automakers would routinely update their chips, as builders of personal computers and shopper electronics (and a specified California carmaker) do, they may uncover generation ability to be less of a difficulty.
EVs really do not necessarily use much less semiconductors than legacy ICE vehicles—on the opposite, they are likely to use extra. EVs need to change the AC ability that comes from the grid into DC, which is saved in batteries (autos that use AC motors, as some Teslas do, need to have to transform once more). This process is controlled by converter components, which requires big numbers of chips.
As Transportation Dive studies, a typical diesel-driven truck employs about 500 chips, but an electric powered a person could require up to 5,000. The chip lack surely has something to do with the delayed start of the Tesla Semi. Final Oct, Elon Musk announced nonetheless another hold off, expressing that Tesla “should be as a result of our extreme provide chain shortages” by 2023.
Tesla has navigated the supply crunch more nimbly than other automakers, and we know that at least component of this was because it was able to nimbly change to newer, a lot more readily offered chips. “In Q1, we ended up in a position to navigate through world wide chip source shortage issues in portion by pivoting really promptly to new microcontrollers, whilst at the same time producing firmware for new chips built by new suppliers,” wrote Tesla in its Q1 2021 shareholders letter.
We simply cannot know specifically how a lot of an gain Tesla’s unified laptop or computer architecture is proving to be when it will come to working with chip shortages, but to paraphrase Herman Melville, there is nothing at all wrong with reporting a affordable surmise if there’s proof to guidance it. A unified architecture is plainly superior. Tesla has it. Other automakers do not.
Personal computer hardware and program are important to the car industry, and as the tetra-trend (electrification, connectivity, autonomy, new possession types) continues, they’ll become even much more vital. For Tesla, computing is a main functionality, and this is but another location in which the legacy OEMs need to capture up, or, as Mr. Wright predicted with basic understatement, they’re likely to have challenges.