How much money did the integrated die-casting save Musk?

Everyone here, have you ever fought Gundam?

To put it simply, to put together a Gundam, you need to go through the following steps:

  1. Cut the parts, and use tools such as files and sandpaper to smooth the nozzle;
  2. Assemble the torso, limbs, head, weapons, etc. in the order of the instructions;
  3. Assemble the assembled torso, limbs and other parts to complete the prime group;
  4. Sticking, spraying, and threading are performed on Gundam as needed.

▲Picture from: Die Play Control

The whole process is actually similar to building a car: from manufacturing individual parts, to welding parts, to painting.

The following car body is an example.

First, the steel is uncoiled through an uncoiler line, and then passed through different presses to complete the manufacture of various body parts, large and small. After trimming and punching, the single parts are assembled into front, middle and rear floors by welding or screwing, and finally the lower body assembly is formed.

▲NIO's stamping production line

It's easy to say, but building a car and fighting Gundam are still incomparable. A Bandai RG RX-78-2 Yuanzu Gundam has about 250 parts, and a set of parts for the lower body assembly exceeds 370.

If you want to consider the cost, the two are completely incomparable.

In the stamping process, a rear floor production line with a production capacity of 500,000 requires about 1 large press, 15 small presses, 1 large mold, and 15 small molds. The total cost of the equipment is about 100 million yuan.

▲Volkswagen's welding operation

The welding process requires 2 welding robots, 1 welding handling robot, and 1 set of fixtures, and the equipment cost is about 125 million yuan.

It can be seen that using the traditional stamping & welding process to produce the rear floor requires 225 million yuan in equipment cost alone, and the equipment is only the foundation.

A production line of this size requires about 120 employees, and the labor cost is about 30 million yuan; plus the 375 million yuan spent on 700-800 solder joints, the total cost comes to 630 million yuan .

Regarding how much it costs to build a car, NIO CEO Li Bin mentioned at the end of last year:

A few years ago, I said 20 billion (RMB) as the capital threshold to be reserved for building a car. Now, it may not be possible without 40 billion.

Therefore, in the matter of building a car, you can try not to touch it or try not to touch it. If you want to reflect your "craftsman spirit", you might as well go for Gundam.

What about already built?

Some friends may have guessed what I am about to say. The wave of integrated die-casting in North America has already drifted to the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory with the northeast trade wind and the northern equatorial warm current.

Beginning in early 2021, the Model Y delivered by Tesla's Shanghai Gigafactory will feature a one-piece die-cast rear floor.

It depends on the popularity of various automotive media. Everyone knows that this thing can save costs for car companies, so how much can it save?

In 2020, Tesla said that Model Y's integrated die-casting rear floor solution can reduce the number of parts from 70 to 1-2.

This is equivalent to, you are still grinding the parts of the arm, but Musk came over to tell you not to grind it, and then shoved the two assembled arms directly into your hand.

Since the one-piece die-casting solution greatly reduces the number of single parts, it is also a floor production line with a production capacity of 500,000 years. The welding cost is directly reduced from the original 375 million yuan to 25 million yuan, and the labor cost is also reduced from 30 million yuan. to 0.45 billion yuan . Looking at it this way, it looks like you don't need money.

In fact, unlike the traditional & welding solution, the cost of the one-piece die casting solution mainly comes from the production equipment.

In February last year, Tesla released a video of a die-casting machine in the Shanghai Super Factory. It was a large die-casting machine Giga Press produced by Lijin Group, with a clamping force of 6,000 tons, 20 meters long, 7.5 meters wide and 6 meters high. meters, and the weight reached 410 tons. Currently, the Shanghai plant has a total of 4 die-casting machines.

Only the die-casting machine is not enough, the entire die-casting island unit also contains many peripheral equipment, including die-casting molds, melting furnaces, spraying equipment, pick-up equipment, cooling equipment, trimmers, conveyor belts, oil temperature machines, high vacuum equipment, etc.

To achieve an annual production capacity of 500,000, it is estimated that 4 sets of die-casting islands, 5-6 sets of fixtures, 2 welding machines, and 5-6 robots are needed, with a cost of about 450 million yuan. In addition to the previous welding cost and labor cost, the total cost of the integrated die-casting solution is about 480 million yuan – a saving of 150 million yuan compared with the traditional stamping & welding solution .

And that's just the money saved for a rear floor.

▲ The Model Y at the bottom right is produced by the Austin factory

Tesla’s Austin, Texas factory’s financial report for the first quarter of 2022 shows that the factory has added integrated die-casting of the front floor (front longitudinal beam) on the basis of the rear floor, reducing the number of front and rear floor parts from 171 to 2. , the number of solder joints has been reduced by more than 1600.

This saves another sum of money.

In 2021, Tesla also demonstrated Tesla's integrated die-casting chassis at the Berlin factory open day. They plan to replace the original 370 single parts with 2-3 large die-casting parts to form the lower body assembly. .

It can be seen that what Musk is thinking in his mind is not a spelled arm or a spelled leg. What he wants is a whole spelled "Gundam".

The least valuable is money

According to Li Xiang, CEO of Lixiang Auto, quoted by Auto Business Review, Tesla's main purpose is to increase production capacity, and it is the kind that takes off in place.

Why does Tesla make a one-piece cast body? Not to reduce costs, but to increase productivity. In its eyes, cost and efficiency are not the same concept. Efficiency refers to how to provide enough production capacity in the shortest time. This is a question that it has thought about a lot. The Shanghai factory has a production capacity of 800,000 to 900,000 acres this year, which has never happened in history.

As mentioned earlier, under the traditional process, the manufacture of the lower body assembly requires two major workshops, stamping and welding, and it takes more than 2 hours to produce a lower body assembly.

The integrated die-casting time of the Model Y rear floor is about 180 seconds—one in three minutes.

Integrated die casting can not only greatly improve the production efficiency of vehicles, but also greatly shorten the development cycle of models .

In traditional automobile manufacturing, due to the large number of parts and components, the matching control takes a long time. It takes three rounds of comprehensive matching to solidify and stabilize each part within the tolerance requirements. The whole cycle usually takes up to 6 months.

Thanks to the integrated die-casting, the number of parts is greatly reduced, the logistics is simplified, the difficulty of matching and the cost of control are also reduced, and the development cycle can be shortened to 1-2 months.

In addition, the integrated die casting also improves the performance of the vehicle .

You heard that right, the performance. This is like the snake gallbladder swallowed by Yang Guo in "The Legend of Condor Heroes", the Kunlun Mountain Peach eaten by Zhang Wuji in "The Legend of Heaven and Dragon Slayer", the reckless red toad eaten by Duan Yu in "Eight Dragons"…

▲ Stills of "The Condor Heroes"

Because it's light enough – the one-piece die-cast Tesla lower body assembly can reduce the weight of the vehicle by 10%.

Compared with gasoline-powered cars, although new energy vehicles have less engines and gearboxes, their three-electric systems have a larger weight gain , especially batteries—the energy density of batteries is about 0.1-0.3kWh/kg, and the energy density of fuel is about 12kWh /kg.

A survey report by Guohai Securities shows that compared with the fuel version, the weight of the plug-in hybrid model has increased by about 12-18%, and the pure electric version has increased by about 19-32%.

According to data from the 2019 Automotive Lightweight Conference, for every 10% reduction in the vehicle weight of pure electric models:

  • The average cruising range will increase by 5%-8%;
  • Electricity consumption can be reduced by 6.3%;
  • 0-100km/h acceleration performance can be improved by 8-10%;
  • The braking distance can be shortened by 2-7m.

Not only that, the lightweight body also improves the stability of the car's handling, which I deeply understand.

On the same track, when driving pure electric vehicles (such as Taycan, Model S, etc.), the braking point is often much earlier. At the same time, the high weight also lowered the mid-corner limit, so I had to enter the corner at a slower pace.

These experiences…all I got from the emulator. Don't rush to do it first, although it is an emulator, this is the truth.

In addition, the integrated die-casting has the advantages of high torsional rigidity and high forming accuracy, which Musk is very confident about.

The accuracy of the next-generation Model Y will be measured in microns, not millimeters.

Faced with consumer dissatisfaction with the Model 3 body seams, Musk even said, "The root cause of the Model 3's poor seams is the lack of integrated die-casting technology."

Integrated die-casting is the trend, we can't escape

Everyone should have seen the news that "280,000 Tesla hits it, and repairs cost 200,000". The market's concerns about integrated die-casting parts also started at this time.

For the large integrated die-casting parts that traverse the left and right sides of the body, if one side is damaged, it can only be replaced as a whole. Many people believe that this is Tesla's "passing on" of production costs to consumers.

It is true that if it is a single-piece welded vehicle, there is no such risk, but from the perspective of the industry, users still have to pay for technological innovation after all .

Musk isn't the only player on this track.

On October 18, 2021, NIO stated that they have successfully developed heat-free materials that can be used to manufacture large-scale die castings, and the new materials will be applied to NIO's second-generation platform models. Two months later, NIO announced on NIODay that the rear floor-related parts of the NIO ET5 will be cast in one piece.

According to NIO, this change can reduce the weight of the rear floor by 30%, increase the trunk space by 11L, and increase the torsional stiffness of the vehicle from 31kNm/deg to 34kNm/deg. Of course, and more importantly, it reduces production costs.

Xpeng Motors joined hands with Guangdong Hongtu to introduce a super-large die-casting island and automated production line to its Wuhan factory. In January of this year, Xpeng Motors also announced a project to deploy key components such as an integrated front cabin assembly, an integrated rear floor assembly and an integrated battery tray.

It's not just new energy companies that want to eat crabs.

Mercedes-Benz also brought their latest scientific research results this year – VISION EQXX, this concept car uses a one-piece die-casting part called "BIONEQXX"; Volvo plans to invest 10 billion SEK in its Swedish factory to introduce the process; Volkswagen also unveiled their prototype one-piece aluminum die-cast rear body last week.

Yes, all-in-one die casting is the trend, and we can't avoid it.

Guosen Securities "Integrated Die Casting in the Automotive Industry: Aluminum Die Casting Towards Large-scale and Integrated Development"
Guohai Securities "Tesla Manufacturing Revolution: Integrated Die Casting"
Auto Business Review "Integrated Die Casting Makes Car Building Easier? 》

The author is a little busy, so I will write the introduction later.

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