Its CEO may be busy challenging Mark Zuckerberg to cage matches, but Tesla has still managed to come up with a new way to make cars that’s expected to be faster and cheaper
Driving the news: Using 3D printers, Tesla has created a new “gigacasting” process, in which many small parts of a vehicle are made from a single mould.
How it works: Typically, automakers have to create individual moulds for hundreds of small parts that go into a vehicle. Tesla has managed to create one that incorporates most of the complex parts of their EVs into one mould.
By using 3D printers to build test moulds with industrial sand, Tesla spends 3% of what they would making metal test moulds. That’s allowed them to iron out the design kinks of their vehicles quickly and at a fraction of the cost.
Automakers have historically avoided gigacasting because of the cost of redesigning the metal test moulds if they need to make a change—up to US$1.5 million per mould.
Why it matters: The manufacturing breakthrough means Tesla could start producing vehicles at a significantly lower cost than its competitors. Even consumers skeptical of going electric could be enticed if Tesla can offer a high-quality EV cheaper than traditional cars.
Tesla is aiming to offer its new small EV model—which has been at the center of the breakthrough—for US$25,000 by mid-decade.
Yes, but: The company still needs to make new gigapresses with more clamping power and build bigger facilities to accommodate them, both of which will take time and are sure to cost a solid chunk of change.
Bottom line: Two-thirds of global car sales are expected to be EVs by 2030. If Tesla is manufacturing their vehicles at a fraction of what their competitors are by then, it’s safe to assume a lot of those will be Teslas.—LA