When you think of unique, high-end cars, like the Tesla Model X or any McLaren supercar, you’re mostly thinking about their most distinctive components—the EV battery technology that powers the Tesla, or the powerful aerodynamic features that give the McLaren its racetrack grip. You might be surprised to find that such advanced vehicles share a lot of their hidden components with far more common, everyday cars.
Welcome to The Parts Department, where we follow basic car components to their strangest destinations.
The Model X, you won’t be surprised to find, shares many components with its sedan sibling, the Tesla Model S. That’s why we see the same Mercedes-sourced steering column stalks and window switchgear in both EVs. But I recently became aware that one of the Model X’s most advanced systems—the HVAC system, equipped with “Bioweapon Defense Mode”—is built using some commonplace components found in many other cars.
A heater core blend door actuator is an electric servo motor that opens and closes a door inside the HVAC assembly to adjust the amount of hot or cool air being sent through the vents. In the Model X, the blend door actuator is manufactured by automotive parts supplier Woory, with part number D266-EB9AA01. As it turns out, that Woory component is original equipment in a variety of Hyundais and Kias. Its first appearance on the U.S. market was in the 2009 Hyundai Sonata, and it also showed up overseas in vehicles like the Hyundai i30 and Kia Cee’d. While the logic and filtration systems that power Tesla’s Bioweapon Defense Mode might be quite advanced, sometimes using a known, reliable part—like that Woory blend door actuator—is the best choice from a cost and reliability perspective.
Mercedes-Benz must have been on to something with the fourth-generation E-Class. Not only did Tesla borrow a bunch of Benz’s interior stalks and switches, McLaren decided the E-Class’s window motors would be perfect for its smaller mid-engine supercar, the 570S (as well as the European-market 540C). Brose window motor no. 934531-102 first came on the market in the 2010 Mercedes E-Class, but it wasn’t long after that McLaren chose the same component for its own lineup. If you ever pull the door panel off a 570S, you’ll know it: There’s a Mercedes-Benz logo printed right next to the Brose brand name on the motor housing. That window motor ended up being quite popular, making its way to a variety of other models—including the Mercedes-AMG GT-R, a McLaren competitor.
And just to close the triangle, the Tesla Model X also borrows some parts that were originally designed for McLaren. While the Model X is best known for its bizarre cantilevered Falcon Wing power-folding rear doors, the front doors are quite advanced on their own, featuring soft-close capability. Those power-latching doors are cinched shut by a Chevalier latch mechanism, an early version of which first appeared in the McLaren MP4-12C, the first production car of McLaren’s modern era. This Chevalier component soon made its way to the rest of the McLaren lineup.
One of the unique things about this McLaren-Tesla connection is the opportunity it presented for aftermarket upgrades. Many McLaren models are not equipped with soft-close doors, but every Model X has that capability, using a slightly different version of the shared Chevalier latch to pull the doors shut. Eventually, some McLaren owners figured out that the two parts were interchangeable, and began installing the Model X parts in their British supercars to get soft-close doors. Below is one of the best videos on this upgrade, where a McLaren owner shows the Tesla part numbers needed to perform this clever upgrade. In this case, parts sharing between vastly different vehicles ended up being a benefit to owners.
You might wonder why high-end, exclusive cars sometimes use parts from more common makes and models. It’s actually beneficial for lower-volume manufacturers to find compatible parts from existing vehicles, especially from a financial standpoint. A component from a vehicle that’s already on sale has gone through extensive research and development; using that component means a smaller carmaker doesn’t need to pay to develop a new one. Plus, shared equipment reduces risk. With a smaller quantity of a limited-production car like a McLaren, there are fewer individual vehicles to help spread out the development cost of a newly-designed part. While that might not seem like a big deal on a supercar with a six-figure price tag, think of how many components it takes to build a modern car. Designing each item in-house would greatly increase a car’s price. This is especially relevant when it comes to items like that Tesla/McLaren door latch mechanism. Not only did that component require lots of development for its general functionality, there were additional costs for safety testing, since most markets have safety regulations that specify how a car door opens and closes.
Most of the time, a vehicle’s shared parts aren’t visible from the sidewalk or the driver’s seat. But it’s always fun to find an Easter egg when you disassemble a car and see a familiar component staring back at you.
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