Tesla is constantly looking for new ways to cut the production costs of its increasingly popular electric vehicles. The latest method the company is exploring involves “Giga Presses,” huge clamping devices that can die-cast the entire underbody of a car in one piece, Reuters reported.
The traditional way of manufacturing a car involves creating around 400 distinct pieces that fit together. Making basically the entire vehicle all in one go clearly simplifies the process — but it also comes with a lot of hazards and drawbacks that have made other automakers wary of the process.
“It is an enabler on steroids,” said Terry Woychowski, president of engineering company Caresoft Global, in the Reuters report. “It has a huge implication for the industry, but it’s a very challenging task. Castings are very hard to do, especially the bigger and the more complicated.”
To explain the complication, one car manufacturing consultant told Reuters that “fixing design flaws is much easier with a body made up of several small parts rather than a single module.”
Considering all of the design flaws that have plagued Tesla in the past, that is certainly cause for concern. One Tesla owner took to Reddit recently to point out the myriad assembly issues with his $140,000 Model S, which he said “looks like toddlers put this together during recess.”
There is also the question of whether the process can be used and streamlined for multiple different vehicle types at once.
“My guess is that’s next to impossible,” another manufacturing consultant told Reuters. “That could become a drag on the company’s overall efficiency since Tesla’s model lineup is sure to become more varied and complex.”
All in all, based on the company’s history, there is certainly reason to doubt that Tesla will be able to deliver on a brand new design process that allows it to churn out finished products faster than other automakers — but anything is possible.
After all, despite the flaws some have found, Tesla does have one of the best track records for customer satisfaction and is far and away the most profitable automaker of fully electric vehicles. That’s why it’s not surprising to learn other manufacturers, like Volvo and Toyota, are also planning to get in on the Giga Press game. They will just need to hope the bet pays off.
Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.