GM buys itself a win over Tesla

Fed up with trying to crack the code of Tesla’s low manufacturing costs, GM decided it would just buy the EV maker’s secret weapon. 

Driving the news: General Motors has bought casting company Tooling & Equipment International (TEI), one of the manufacturing specialists that has allowed Tesla to produce vehicles at lower costs than its competitors, per Reuters

  • The acquisition gives GM insight into how sand casting — TEI’s specialty — helped Tesla create its industry-leading gigacasting moulds.

Catch up: Automakers typically have to create individual moulds for hundreds of small parts that go into a vehicle, but (with TEI’s help) Tesla has managed to create one gigacasting mould that incorporates most of the complex parts of their EVs. 

  • TEI used 3D printers to build test moulds with industrial sand, which allowed Tesla to spend 3% of what they would have making metal test moulds. That made it possible to iron out the design kinks of their vehicles quickly and at a fraction of the cost. 

  • TEI’s sand casting helped Tesla economically develop a car from the ground up in 18 to 24 months, while its major competitors took between three to four years.

Why it matters: GM’s acquisition gives them access to a critical page of the Tesla playbook. As the industry races to ship low-cost EVs, saving time and money on the assembly line will be crucial to taking on market leader Tesla.—LA