Tesla Motors has assembled the first Validation Prototype of the Tesla electric Roadster at the Hethel facility in the UK, which it then airlifted to the San Carlos, Calif., workshop to commence system testing.
Validation Prototypes (VPs) are the second generation of prototypes, succeeding the first generation Engineering Prototypes (EPs). Although many of the EPs are still undergoing testing, VPs incorporate many changes from EP learning.
Providing the update on the company’s site, Malcolm Powell, VP of Vehicle Integration, wrote:
Having been involved in previous vehicle programs, I often get comments from people who see the first prototype (family and friends included, although they should know better by now) along the lines of: “surely it’s nearly finished, so why does it take so long to get to production?” Despite the use of modern computer systems to design and predict the performance of the components, it isn’t until you actually build and test a vehicle that you find out many of the detailed tweaks required to meet the quality, reliability, and performance targets expected of today’s motor cars. Thus the need for both EPs and VPs.
From our photographs, the EP & VP cars will look pretty identical, but very few of the newly engineered parts remain unchanged, whether through detail-level physical change or manufacturing process. In fact, I’m struggling to think of one.
The major new technology systems have not escaped the process of evolution, either. Our Power Electronics Module (PEM), motor, and ESS have all gone through significant detailed design changes to improve performance, reliability, and manufacturability. Continued testing and refinement of these elements will occur through the VP phase.