Tesla reportedly shrinks its gigacasting manufacturing ambitions

It’s gone from one piece to three.

Typically, automakers piece together the underbody from hundreds of individual parts. But Tesla has been a leader in using huge presses to die-cast large sections, with the goal of eventually producing the entire underbody in a single piece. The goal was to simplify the process while also dramatically reducing the costs of its manufacturing.

Tesla has also promoted something it called its “unboxed” manufacturing process, in which parts are assembled in dedicated areas of a factory and then all put together at the end. The process was promised to speed up car building while also cutting costs in half.

But now the company is reportedly sticking to the manufacturing process that it uses for its Model Y crossover and Cybertruck vehicles, in which the underbody is pieced together from three pieces: two gigacasted front and rear sections and a mid-section made from aluminum and steel where the battery is stored, Reuters says.

The news is the latest dip in the rollercoaster that Tesla has been on since the start of the year when the company’s CEO Elon Musk warned of slower sales amid increasing competition in the US and China, its two main markets. Since then, the company has laid off over 10 percent of its global workforce, lost several top executives, and reported earnings that came up short of even some Wall Street analysts’ most dire predictions.

Much hope was pinned on the company’s forthcoming affordable EV, the so-called $25,000 “Model 2.” But then Reuters reported last month that Musk canceled the project, preferring to sink the company’s resources into a fully autonomous robotaxi.

Tesla has since reaffirmed its plan to make more affordable EVs, but Musk declined to share much in the way of specifics during the company’s recent earnings call. In its Q1 report, Tesla said its next-generation models “will utilize aspects of the next generation platform as well as aspects of our current platforms and will be able to be produced on the same manufacturing lines as our current vehicle lineup.”

It wasn’t clear whether the more affordable models would be an entirely new vehicle or just cheaper versions of the Model 3 and Y.

When asked about Tesla’s gigacasting innovations as it relates to its plans for more affordable EVs and whether he was concerned that the process would be copied by his Chinese competitors, Musk pivoted to his favorite topic: autonomy.

“We should be thought of as an AI robotics company,” he said. “If you value Tesla as just like an auto company… it’s just the wrong framework.”


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