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Tesla Model 3 Teardown Finds Technology Years Ahead Of Established Automakers

Dave Royse

Tesla Inc's (NASDAQ: TSLA) core computing technology, which will allow autonomous operation, is "far ahead" of other carmakers' computing, according to a "tear-down" of the vehicle and review by Nikkei Asian Review.

The company deconstructed the Tesla Model 3, the company's $33,000 all-electric car, and said its integrated central control unit, or "full self-driving computer," sets the car apart from any on the market.

Nikkei quoted an engineer from an unnamed Japanese car maker who inspected the computer as saying it couldn't be matched by that company.

Tesla Reshapes The Supply Chain

Nikkei Asian Review touted the computer, also known as "Hardware 3," as Tesla's "biggest weapon in the burgeoning EV market" and said it could "end end the auto industry supply chain as we know it."

That's because the Tesla computer eliminates the need in the car for many of the electronic control units currently supplied to other automakers by a vast web of suppliers.

Tesla, the review said, appears to maintain a much tighter control over the components in its car.

Tesla's Easier Method Of Extending Autonomy

That's key, the article said, because it means Tesla can boost the technologic capability of the car through "over the air" software updates.

They're partially autonomous now, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said they have the necessary components now for full self-driving capability. 

The computing component, which is in new Model S and Model X Teslas in addition to new Model 3s, includes two custom AI chips developed by Tesla on its own and special software.

The computer not only powers the Tesla's autonomous capabilities, but its in-vehichle entertainment system.

Tesla has beaten rivals, including Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) and Volkswagen AG/ADR (OTC: VWAGY), on autonomy-capable computing power by as much as six years, the article said.

Tesla is bringing other technology development in-house, in addition to its software and computing hardware, Nikkei said.

"If this strategy succeeds, competitors will have little choice but to follow suit, upending their old business models and supply chains as they try to overcome Tesla's head start."

Tesla's Stock Price

Tesla shares were up 6.02% at publication time Tuesday, trading at $848.23.

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A Tesla self-driving computer. Photo courtesy of the company. 

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