American carmaker Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) has been at the forefront of innovation in the automobile industry for the past decade or so, almost singlehandedly leading the introduction of cutting-edge software in EVs and developing a variety of next-generation electric cars. According to a recent Reuters report, Tesla has now made a breakthrough in vehicle manufacturing that could allow it to cut its production costs by as much as 50%.
Electric cars are poised to replace conventional fossil-fuel cars over the next few decades. However, high purchase prices have consistently dampened electric vehicle demand. The average vehicle is $15,000 to $20,000 more expensive than petrol and diesel-powered cars, with the higher-end electric cars costing more than $100,000. Unsurprisingly, this has limited electric vehicle ownership to high-earning Americans with plenty of disposable income.
Tesla’s quiet breakthrough could allow the company to halve its vehicle production costs and pass the savings on to its customers, potentially leading to the creation of affordable electric cars for the mass market. The Texas-based automaker initiated the use of massive presses with a whopping 6,000-9,000 tons’ worth of clamping pressure instead of using dozens of welded components in the production of the best-selling Model Y.
Using “gigapresses” to make large vehicle underbody pieces has helped Tesla significantly simplify the production process, lessen the use of robots and streamline vehicle production. EV production typically involves molding more than a hundred individual metal parts together to make a single vehicle body, a relatively complex and costly process. According to Tesla, using a single component to build the Model Y’s rear reduced related production costs by 40%.
Furthermore, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims the company eliminated 600 robots from the Model 3 assembly line by applying a single piece in the production of the vehicle’s rear and front. This technique has also allowed Tesla to reduce the weight of its vehicles, a factor that is crucial to improving vehicle range and alleviating range anxiety. The reduction in vehicle weight may also have helped car manufacturers reduce greenhouse emissions and waste from production plants.
House-sized gigapresses have allowed Tesla to reduce the moving parts required for production, simplify the processes and lower costs. With the recent adoption of gigapresses contributing to a surge in Tesla’s profitability, several other carmakers are scrambling to follow Tesla and implement the gigapress concept in their production.
Toyota announced in August that it would adopt gigapresses into its production pipeline, and companies such as Polestar, Volvo Cars, Hyundai Motors and General Motors have expressed interest in using the technology.
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