WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Tesla wants to produce 20 million cars a year and to hit that goal they need to make some big changes and some big presses.
When it comes to manufacturing I see some quite advanced technologies – from virus based molecular assemblers building next gen batteries to robot swarms 3D printing buildings, electric cars, rockets, and rocket engines. Now though a less advanced but more mainstream technology is getting everyone talking after a new leak from Tesla insiders suggested that the EV maker has already begun work on a massive 12,000-ton “Gigapress.” The leaks also suggest Tesla will use the new Gigapress to build the entire chassis of a vehicle in one piece.
It’s no secret that Elon Musk, the company’s founder, is in the process of massively increasing the company’s production capacity. Recently, the EV maker announced a record quarter when it delivered 241,000 vehicles in 3 months. Tesla also set a new monthly production record in China by delivering 56,000 vehicles just in the month of September.
According to Musk, by 2030 Tesla plans to produce 20 million vehicles a year, and to achieve this lofty goal, Tesla plans to grow vehicle production by an average of 50% every year for the foreseeable future – which is a lot. And needless to say they’ll need a game changing manufacturing process to achieve it.
Furthermore, if Tesla can achieve this monumental leap then it’d also make them by far the largest vehicle manufacturer in the world. Volkswagen, for example, which is the current largest automaker by vehicle output produces 10 million cars a year.
However, in order for Tesla to become the largest automaker in the world first they need to streamline the production process. And one breakthrough that helps Tesla to differentiate its manufacturing process is the use of Gigapresses.
A Gigapress is a large casting machine that takes in molten aluminum and can output large chunks of a vehicle’s chassis as a single part. This allows the EV maker to decrease individual parts that make up a vehicle, which in turn means less welding, improved manufacturing speed, smaller factory footprint, decreased cost, and improved stiffness and handling.
Currently, Tesla only uses smaller Gigapress to produce the rear chassis of the Model Y which also let them decrease the parts count in the rear of the Model Y from 70 to just 1.
This has definitely helped Tesla to quickly ramp Model Y production. However, the EV maker is not content only using a Gigapress in the rear of the Model Y. Recently Elon Musk has said the refreshed Model Y, which will begin production this quarter in Giga Berlin and Giga Texas, will be the “most advanced vehicle in the world with two-thirds of the body cast.”
However, in the long run, Tesla plans to go even beyond using a Gigapress in two-thirds of the vehicle and cast an entire car as a single piece. Musk has alluded to this goal on multiple occasions and Tesla has also filed a patent showing a massive machine that can accomplish such a task.
However, so far noone’s heard any reports claiming Tesla is looking to build such a machine anytime soon. That is until now after Tesla insiders Alex and Sawyer Merritt both confirmed independently that their sources have told them Tesla is building the beast.
In contrast, the world’s most powerful Gigapress, which is currently being built by Tesla’s Gigapress assembling partner IDRA has just 8,000 tons of force. When complete this Gigapress will be used to build the Cybertruck in Austin, Texas.
However, going back to the 12,000-ton Gigapress rumors, if true, this would mean Tesla’s goal of becoming the best and biggest vehicle manufacturer in the world has progressed far beyond anything anyone outside of the company understands.
As of now, it’s not yet clear which vehicle Tesla has chosen to initially use the press. Speculations range from the upcoming $25,000 compact car to the Tesla Semi.
However, no matter which Tesla ends up being the first vehicle to have its entire chassis made as a single piece, it will undoubtedly be a seminal moment in the world of automotive manufacturing.
While the idea that Tesla will soon be able to build an entire vehicle out of a single piece of metal is truly revolutionary there are questions though. For example, if such a vehicle is involved in an accident, what would it mean for reparability? Also, what sorts of new capabilities and financial savings will building a vehicle in one piece unlock? Does Tesla plan to eventually build all vehicles out of a single-piece chassis? And more …