Tesla may not have nearly the size or market penetration of its more established rivals, but the company is years ahead of them in electronics technology.
Nikkei Business Publication did a teardown of the Tesla Model 3, giving engineers from competitors the opportunity to examine the electronic components. In particular, the teardown looked at the integrated central control unit, the brains of the car. Tesla created the Full Self-Driving (FSD) Computer, or Hardware 3, after finding there were no existing solutions available.
According to Nikkei, “one stunned engineer from a major Japanese automaker examined the computer and declared, ‘We cannot do it.’”
As electric vehicles and self-driving cars become the standard, FSD-type hardware will be in high demand and be one of the single most critical components of such vehicles. As Nikkei highlights, however, industry experts don’t expect the technology to be widely used until 2025, giving Tesla a six-year head start.
Nikkei’s sources claim companies such as Toyota and VW have the technological ability to roll out similar hardware, but feel indebted to the supply chain they have spent decades building up. That supply chain will be devastated by FSD-style hardware that will greatly simplify the electronic design of vehicles, cutting down the number of components needed.
Tesla has already been credited with a significant advantage in its battery technology, allowing it to spend roughly $50 per kilowatt hour less than competitors. Now with it having an equally significant advantage in its electronics tech, competitors will have to play catchup on multiple fronts—whether for technical reasons or not.