Whatever new technologies Tesla Motors' new Model 3 might contain as it reaches consumers this year, there is one thing it will contain much less of — and that's wiring.
According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the Model 3 will represent an enormous advance in architectural efficiency by requiring a fraction of the electrical wiring that is needed in its older vehicle, the Model S.
Musk told analysts in May that the Model 3 will require just 5,000 feet of wiring.
By comparison, Musk said, Tesla's five-door liftback Model S — launched in 2012 — requires about 10,000 feet of wiring to operate.
But Musk gave analysts an even more startling product tidbit in the conversation: Tesla's next model — the Model Y small crossover — will require only 328 feet of wiring in construction, he said.
Musk says the huge elimination of wiring will be possible through new electrical systems that use different voltage and power transmission hardware.
The Model Y's new architecture will use a new approach to electrical distribution, although Musk did not clearly explain how Tesla is doing it.
Tesla has revealed little about the Model Y. The company says it will arrive in 2019 or 2020, although the date is apparently not firm. Musk said Tesla will move away from conventional 12-volt systems.
The California automaker has its hands full launching the Model 3, a long anticipated compact electric vehicle that Tesla is expected to retail for around $35,000.
If the introduction goes as planned, the Model 3 will take Tesla and its sole assembly plant into the realm of high-volume production. Until now, Tesla's Fremont, Calif., plant has been turning out fewer than 100,000 sedans and crossovers a year. Tesla anticipates the addition of Model 3 production this year will eventually lift plant volume to nearly 500,000 vehicles a year.
Vehicle electrical wiring is one of the most problematic issues of auto assembly, and wire harnesses themselves can be troublesome systems. Simplifying the distribution of electricity through a car can have an impact on how long it takes to produce a car in an assembly plant.
That has been a key issue for Tesla, which has a growing number of products coming out of a single factory.
Musk hopes to accelerate production cycle time through a combination of plant automation and by designing vehicles for simpler construction — such as the Model 3 and the Model Y.
Musk told analysts that the Model Y's production plan will be a step apart from what Tesla — or the rest of the industry — is currently doing.
"There will be nothing close to it," he hinted, although providing no details.