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Aug 10, 2020
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Illinois, USA
GMC Sierra Hybrid (2-Mode)
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Question for those who know production schedule better than I do: at what point with a new vehicle design do they start crash testing? Initial prototypes are the most expensive to build and my hunch is crash testing would be during a phase where this is some sense of scale production, not one-offs
Crash testing starts before the car is built, using finite element analysis (FEA) models:

The actual crash tests are really just done to:
a) Validate the computational modeling.
b) Comply with regulatory requirements.

Of course, if they find any surprises during the real life crash testing, then they have to make another version of the car and fix any problems they found. Any modern car design process is going to do this with a very small number of iterations.

They have a really good idea of what the crash test results should look like before the first prototype is built.

This approach is saves lives, money, and time -- which is why it's been the standard approach for the last 25 years or so.

My guess is that Tesla's internal crash lab is more about not having to share the schedule with other car makers at the existing crash labs than it is about anything else. It probably makes confidentiality easier, too.

Source: I used to be a sysadmin for the kind of people who used LS-Dyna, ANSYS, and Comsol to do their jobs.
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