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