Bed for Tesla Model Y – The Making Of

Welcome to the making of the Tesla Model Y Bed. If you haven’t yet, check out the final product first.

Tesla Model Y with bed platform in the trunk
This is what we want to build. A platform bed for the trunk.

Requirements

  • Create a flat surface so 2 people can sleep straight on their stomach.
  • Maximum bed area
  • Stable, no wiggly wiggly.
  • Leave rear seat cushions in (for convenience and to control noise)
  • Cross beam support for the floor boards. The OEM they only sit on the sides, and I worry about 300lbs of passengers.
  • Cheap. Because nothing fits a 40k+ car better than a home depot mod.
  • Quick installation/removal. This also rules out removing the second row seats.
  • Allow full (or most) range for first row seats. I wanted to avoid anyone by mistake driving the front seat back into the frame, especially when the car goes to a remembered seat position.
  • Easy storage when not used. Nice to have: Fit in the trunk with second row seats up when not used.
  • Maximum area. Width at the wheel wells is only 37”, but towards the front, it can go to 53”.

Design

After spending hours on design 1 I tossed most of it as I realized that I can re-use the existing trunk boards and just lift them! This simplified everything!

Design 2 consists of cross bars that go below the two trunk floor boards and lift them up 2.5”. A third board goes on the back of the folded down second row, with a support on the rear end to make it even with the other two boards. The front end rests on the seats.

Temporary layout of support beams shows the basic support structure. Two cross bar each for the existing OEM trunk floor boards, and support for a new, third board in the shoulder area.

This will make it trivial to install as it’s just two frames and one panel.

The light version of this design is to just make a board to put across the folded down seats.

Woodworking

That frame will not be visible, so there is really no need to be very exact. Good, because I don’t have those skills. I did all the cuts with the tools I had available, which is basically a reciprocating saw. It took two short cuts at two corners of the board, and a few cuts of the lumber. Then two screws on each corner and a few more to attach the support to the board.

Below is the relatively crude outcome of the woodworking phase.

The original plan was to paint it all black so it can blend in. Then I learned about automotive carpet. So I ordered a roll (and later a second, because the first was not enough) and started wrapping everything.

Final Spec

  • Width of the two frames is 37.5”. The rear is 17” deep, the front is 19” deep.
  • Width of the additional, front most board is 48”
  • Total length of the frame is 6 foot (182cm). The pic below shows 5’10”, but in-car there is a gap betwen the frames, and between the custom board and the frame.
  • 2.5” lift is enough, but more would be better. 2.5” is not enough for straight and I should have gotten 2×4 or 2×6.

Materials

  • Four 3×2 8ft struts ($12)
    Consider 4×2 (see text on why). I bought more than I needed, but the cheap ones, so parts of them were unusable.
  • One 4’x4’ ½” plywood board ($25)
    4’x8’ has more flexibility and is cheaper per sq ft, but requires longer cuts to fit in MY.
  • Screws
  • Drill, saw, and a screw driver.
  • Automotive carpet and glue (spray)

Additional Mods

I could lift even more and install a drawer under the bed that provides a shelf to cook on when pulled out (Rivian Style). A platform on 8″ lifts, provides easy access to the trunk well. The bed moves forward, because the rear door slants and there is enough room with the front seats, but you may need to be more careful at this point moving the seats back. Lifting the bed also gives you more width at the wheel wells. Instead of the standard 37.5, you have 40.5.

Below is a mock up of how this could look. I rarely camp in places without tables, so it’s not critical for my use case.

Another reason to lift the bed more is to create room for a spare tire. A Modern Spare could fit horizontally under the front board if the bed goes up another few inches.

Blooper Reel

I spent some time experimenting and testing things out, and learned along the way. I even made some mistakes. But in hind sight, it is pretty straight forward, and the mistakes are tolerable.

Acquiring Lumber

I planned to purchase ΒΎ thick 4’x8’ sanded plywood and have it cut by Home Depot to 53×30. The three pieces would then have all fit into the Y. Unfortunately, their machine was out of order. In a pandemic, the last thing I wanted is to go to another Home Depot. So I ended up with a ½” 4’x4’ pre-cut piece. It fit in the car, but it was close, especially as I also had to fit in 8’ long 2x3s (you need to go in through the second row doors.

This supply problem is why I ended up with 48” width instead of 53”. It does make installation through the rear easier and doesn’t impact actual use. If anything, it makes it easier to access the door pockets when from the bed.

Later I found out that the second row seat backs are cushioned, so the board shifts when you move. Even later, I fixed that by supporting the board with two rolled towels on the front of the rear seats. The towels can be used as towels when needed, too.

Tipping

In our first tests we kept tipping over when getting in and out and so I shortened the last cross bar to move it further back. It still was way too tippy. It requires extra support at the end. Luckily I had some left over lumber, that fit nicely, but I fixed this only after the carpet was on the frame, so I just made separate pieces.

Measure the Right Thing

I measured 2” for how much I have to lift the trunk panels to get a straight surface. Unfortunately, I measured along the right outside of the cabin, and the right side second row seat folds down lower than the middle (see picture). Oops. I still have a tiny slope, but it doesn’t negatively impact use.

Some more background, discussion of more options and general WIP here: https://www.reddit.com/r/TeslaModelY/comments/l4tsql/50_diy_straight_bed_frame_for_tesla_model_y/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

Last Updated on June 5, 2021.