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MelindaV

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#1
How many vehicles and for what use will be manufactured prior to "our" production cars? tens? hundreds? thousands? Used for... Test mules, Crash testers, general production fitment testers, EPA/DOT or other agency testers? And which are used for more than one categories? Like would a vehicle tested by EPA become a crash test?
For the sake of simplicity, just considering the United States vehicle agencies, how long does it take to have the vehicle signed off? Weeks? Months? Is it a matter of the manufacturer providing documentation of their testing, or providing vehicle to a test center(s)?
 

Gary Moore

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#2
It's been years since I was inside the industry, and I've never been inside Tesla, but a ballpark answer is tens of vehicles and weeks to implement testing. The EPA and NHTSA and IIHS perform the various testing of submitted vehicles from the manufacturer.

For each model (in this case the Model 3) the EPA would need samples for the different configurations of batteries and motors to be sold in order to get their unique battery range ratings. Since EPA testing is non-destructive and done on dynamometers, the same vehicles might later be crash tested if the scheduling permits the time.

The various crash tests done by both the NHTSA and IIHS (on the other hand) expectedly turn the test vehicles into scrap. Standards established by the SAE International and national laws are involved, so it is hardly simple, but since manufacturers don't like paying for car wrecks much more that you would. it's not a vast undertaking for an individual model car project either.

Pilot production cars are built before actual production start up in order to validate and perfect the factory processes. Demonstrator vehicles are built for the stores, usually early on, to give test rides, and those are later sold.

It's typical that factory executives get to drive sample new vehicles during actual production runs for quality evaluations but those would not be in your "beforehand" category.

Now you probably know close to what I do, except that by law, there are applicable fines when the information printed on any required labels for any vehicle shipped become inaccurate beyond specified limits.
 
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#3
Just a side note on the crash tests. Most manufacturers don't actually crash test hundreds of vehicles. They have amazingly accurate computer simulations that they run over and over and over again and only physically crash test a few vehicles to keep costs down.