Tesla Model Y in China now comes with extra airbag protection safety that the US factory version lacks
After the pandemic lockdown measures introduced by the authorities brought Tesla's Giga Shanghai to a standstill in the spring, the factory came roaring back in June, churning out a record number of Model 3 and Model Y units, only to enter another period of lull last month that dipped its production rates. The July stoppages, however, were used for factory upgrades, and one of the first fruits of that labor was just announced by Tesla China as a Model Y safety enhancement.
Unlike the Model Y made in the US, the ones coming out from the Giga Shanghai are now shipping with an extra airbag meant to protect the driver and the passenger next to them in the event of a side collision. The far-side airbag is mounted on the inner right of the driver's seat and prevents bodycheck type of clashes between the front passengers by cocooning the driver together with the airbag on the left side of their seat, the curtain airbag, and the front airbag located in the wheel.
Interestingly enough, the Model Y's owner's manual states that "vehicles manufactured in Berlin are equipped with an airbag on both sides of the driver's seat," just what Tesla China now brags with for the Giga Shanghai models. The US production version of the Model Y doesn't ship with this far-side airbag for now, although it does have knee airbags and a right front one that the Chinese-made Model Y lacks in its turn.
The upgrade might be due to the different crash test safety requirements in different regions, or it may simply be a result of the recent Shanghai Gigafactory upgrades that made installing an extra side airbag possible like at the newer Giga Berlin, meaning that after Germany and China, those upgrades may eventually wiggle into Tesla's US factory as well.