Tearing Down Tesla Segment 5: Seat Comparison on Tesla Model 3, BMW i3 and Chevy Bolt

Seats are another example of how OEMs spend money in different areas. For example:

  • The Tesla Model 3 only uses vinyl for its front seat covers; while
  • The BMW i3 uses high-end leather and cloth; whereas
  • The Chevy Bolt uses leather and vinyl.

Background: This shows that BMW and Chevy prioritize the quality and feel of the seat surface, while Tesla focuses more on adding functionality with a 12-way seat control (versus the manual adjustments on the i3 and Bolt.)

Typically, an electric vehicle is competing alongside luxury vehicles, which normally expect powered seats, but often many electric vehicles will revert to a manual seat in order to reduce the weight associated to the heavy motors that provide actuation.

Data: The front seats for: Model 3 are $568 and 44.8kg; versus the BMW i3 at $729 and 39.8kg; versus the Bolt at $532 and 38.3kg.

Methodology: During the teardown process of each vehicle, we fully disassembled the seat to analyze the covers, structure and electromechanical mechanisms. Each manufacturing process to sew, weld or stamp the components for the various areas of the seats were quantified to develop a full cost for the seat.