The Request

Tesla Motors was founded with the ambitious vision to draw the nascent, niche electric car out of the shadows and into people’s minds and garages as a desirable vehicle. The idea was to create an iconic electric vehicle without making concessions to performance, style, or comfort. While Tesla had a clear vision, they were a 40-person company at the time and did not have a full engineering team to make their vision a reality. Tesla asked Mindtribe to fast track the development of the power electronics module, a core part of the Roadster drivetrain that controls power from the battery to the motor.

The Work

Working under an aggressive deadline, Mindtribe provided systems engineering, mechanical engineering, and project management services for the power electronics module. Given the highly specialized knowledge required to design and test high voltage electronics, Mindtribe worked very closely with the power engineers at suppliers as well as Tesla to ensure that the design met requirements. Mindtribe also worked with the battery, motor, and chassis teams to architect the power electronics module and ensure the overall drivetrain met performance, manufacturing, and compliance goals. Specific mechanical engineering efforts included enclosure design, development of air- and water-cooling systems, vibration isolation, mounting of high voltage electronics, and EMI compliance. Electrical engineering efforts included managing the system architecture of the module with the rest of the vehicle, as well as redesigning several interface and control PCBAs. Additional challenges for the project were that the original team at Tesla had little automotive experience, and the company was growing rapidly with little formal structure. This required the Mindtribe team to gain knowledge quickly across a range of topics, including safety regulations and automotive testing standards. It also meant having to strategically navigate the constantly shifting company structure in order to get information and drive good decisions.

The Outcome

Working under an aggressive deadline, the Mindtribe team successfully drove the design of the original power electronics module and its integration with the other drivetrain components. The design was used for the first integrated prototype of the Roadster, and would be subsequently iterated for the production launch. The rapid completion of the initial design enabled Tesla to meet milestones and demonstrate progress to receive further investor funding. Tesla launched the Roadster two years later in 2008, and became a public company in 2010.