Tesla Breakthrough Poised to Halve EV Production Costs: Report

Tesla is on the verge of a technological breakthrough that could revolutionize its electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing process and significantly reduce production costs, according to five sources familiar with the matter speaking with Reuters.

The innovation centers on Tesla’s “gigacasting” process, which uses presses with 6,000 to 9,000 tons of clamping pressure to mold large vehicle structures. “It is an enabler on steroids. It has a huge implication for the industry, but it’s a very challenging task,” said Terry Woychowski, president of U.S. engineering company Caresoft Global.

The company aims to extend its manufacturing lead by die casting nearly the entire complex underbody of an EV in one piece, as opposed to the conventional method that uses about 400 parts. This is a key part of Tesla’s “unboxed” manufacturing strategy, which CEO Elon Musk unveiled in March. The strategy aims to produce tens of millions of more affordable EVs in the coming decade while maintaining profitability.

The new design and manufacturing techniques could enable Tesla to develop a car from scratch in 18 to 24 months, compared to the industry standard of three to four years, two of the sources said. This accelerated timeline could be crucial for Tesla’s planned $25,000 EV, expected to launch by mid-decade. Tesla’s upcoming Gigafactory in Mexico will produce its next-gen EV, along with Giga Texas as well.

The breakthrough involves 3D printing and industrial sand to create molds for large parts, reducing the design validation process to two to three months. This is a fraction of the time required for traditional metal molds, which can take up to a year. The cost of using sand casting for design validation is just 3% of that for metal prototypes, allowing for multiple iterations at minimal cost.

However, the company faces challenges, including the choice of gigapress to use for casting the underbody. High-clamping power presses may not accommodate the 3D printed sand cores needed for hollow subframes, while slower alloy injection methods could produce higher quality but take longer.

Tesla has yet to confirm these developments, and the end product could still change during the design validation process. Nonetheless, the innovations signal a significant step forward in EV manufacturing, potentially setting a new industry standard.