JPMorgan met with the Founder and CEO of LK Technology and the Head of IDRA (LK Tech's subsidiary, the Italian die casting machine supplier to Tesla). The goal was to understand Tesla's drastic changes in vehicle production thanks to Giga Press and its potential impact on the industry. After the meeting, JPMorgan made several key findings that indicate Tesla's clear superiority over other automakers:
A drastic production and design change, as Tesla replaces 70 pieces of metal into one single piece of casting for Model Y. Giga Press, the world's largest die casting machine at 6,000-ton clamping force, enables Tesla the radical design changes of Model Y. These machines are supplied by LK Tech and its Italian subsidiary Idra Group.
Benefits of single piece casting from Giga Press: lightweight, cost-efficient and simpler production process. Giga casting will help achieve a 40% reduction in rear-underbody cost savings. Also, the new single-piece casting design will deliver a 30% reduction in the size of the body shop. JPMorgan points out that Laurie Harbor, president at Harbor Results Inc., a manufacturing consultancy firm, estimates that Tesla could save about 20% on labor cost from the single piece casting. Using the Giga Press also eliminates alignment problems caused by the combination of several smaller parts, resulting in higher quality vehicles.
A larger die casting machine is expected for Tesla Cybertruck production. At Tesla's Q4 2020 Earnings Call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk commented that it would need an even more powerful high-pressure die casting machine with a clamping force of 8,000 tons for the production of Cybertruck.
The Maths: Assuming the casting machine produces one body part every 4-5 mins, around 70-90k units of annual production can be generated from one Giga Press. Given two Giga Presses are needed for each Model Y (one front body and one rear body part), it is estimated that around 8-10 Giga Presses are needed for the production of 350k units of Model Y.
Will other automakers follow? Tesla's gigacasting is a radical change to the traditional automobile production process (multiple pieces of stamping and welding). If one were to follow, new CAPEX investments are needed aside from drastic changes to vehicle design, production process and management. JPMorgan thinks EV start-ups or Chinese brands may be the first to follow Tesla's footprint.
© 2021, Eva Fox. All rights reserved.
We appreciate your readership! Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.