Tesla has a strong vested interest in helping the electric car to achieve a breakthrough. Whenever the ambitious carmaker comes up against challenges during the development process, Sika is on hand with customized engineering services and cutting-edge technologies. This means protection for the environment and protection for vehicle occupants.

Tesla is changing the automobile market. With its fast, sleek vehicles, the Silicon Valley company has succeeded in transforming the electric car into a status symbol. And in the space of just a few years.

This rapid pace also has an impact on collaboration with supplier companies such as Sika. Tesla is dependent on external knowhow. The Sika Technology Center in Madison Heights, Michigan, USA, possesses the necessary expertise. The key noise and vibration-damping components for the Model S sports limousine were developed here. And it was here that Tesla used special test equipment such as the curing furnace to heat the damping material to 170 °C and trial it at a scale of 1:1 on over 20 different model variants.

The Tesla Model S helped open the luxury class segment to the electric motor.

The Tesla Model S helped open the luxury class segment to the electric motor.

SikaReinforcer®

SikaReinforcer® increases the car body stiffness and crash performance of the Tesla models.

Design support

Sika has been working with the electric car manufacturer since 2010. “Our collaboration goes back to when Tesla was at the very beginning of the design phase for the Model S,” recalls Scott Prebay, Key Account Manager Sika Automotive USA. “This was before there were even any plans drawn for the components for damping vehicle noise and vibrations.”

Sika is a leading supplier to the automobile industry, with Sika products used in 50% of all vehicles manufactured worldwide. The company does not deliver standardized solutions. On the contrary, Sika’s extensive know-how is used in engineering collaborations to adapt products to the specific requirements for each vehicle model and each production process. Sika stays close to its customers. The novel nature of the vehicle design meant even more intensive collaboration with Tesla and the development of additional know-how.

Testcenter in Madison Heights, Michigan USA

In Madison Heights, Michigan, USA, Sika has extensive facilities for testing the body stiffness and acoustic behavior of vehicle-specific products.

Scott Prebay and Jason Whitman

Scott Prebay, Key Account Manager Automotive USA (left), and Jason Whitman, Vice President of Sales Automotive USA, are responsible for Tesla at Sika.

State-of-the-art noise reduction technology

New acoustic and vibration-related solutions are needed for electric cars. One reason is the lightweight construction. The composites used result in a higher interior noise level than with pure steel car bodies. Effective sound-proofing is also a priority because electric motors are practically silent, which makes wind and tire noises sound even louder inside the vehicle. “We recognized this issue in the early stages of work on the Model S and found solutions together with Tesla,” says Jason Whitman, Vice President of Sales Automotive Sika USA.

SikaBaffle® and SikaDamp® are two leading-edge noise reduction technologies developed specifically for and geared toward the respective car model. The thermoplastic acoustic foam filler SikaBaffle® is used to seal vehicle cavities and prevent noise, water, and dust from entering. SikaDamp® damps and absorbs vibrations on surfaces such as car bodies. Both products are very light and contribute to weight reduction. The success of the Sika acoustic systems on the Tesla Model S was the crucial factor in the decision also to work with Sika’s engineers to develop customized solutions using SikaBaffle® and SikaDamp® for the SUV Model X and the mid-size Model 3.

4 VERSCHIEDENE SIKA PRODUKTFAMILIEN WERDEN IN TESLA MODELLEN EINGESETZT, SikaBaffle®, SikaDamp®, SikaReinforcer® UND Sikaflex®

Sika solutions to address new requirements

Sika was also able to help Tesla tackle challenges in the roof area during development of the Model X. The characteristic falcon wing doors and the panoramic windshield provide little room to reinforce the roof. Sika ultimately convinced Tesla’s developers of the advantages offered by SikaReinforcer®. Eight of the lightweight thermoplastic components were used to increase vehicle stiffness and significantly enhance crash performance. Sika’s vast experience in automobile construction also prompted Tesla to order direct glazing applications from Sika at the beginning of 2017. Since then Tesla has been bonding its Model S and X windshields with Sikaflex®.

The strong collaboration is mutually beneficial. Thanks to the damping technologies, car body reinforcements and direct glazing systems, Sika products worth over CHF 70 are used in every Tesla. This success also underlines what sets Sika apart. “Our unique product range allows Tesla to work together with just one supplier on optimizing car body acoustics and structure,” remarks Jason Whitman.