Tesla’s filings for Gigafactory Berlin reveal a particularly interesting detail about the upcoming facility. Based on the documents, Giga Berlin is poised to have eight giant casting machines, or “Giga Presses,” onsite. The presence of the machines, as well as their number, suggests that Tesla may be exploring the idea of rolling out new vehicles that are designed similarly to the Model Y, which uses single-piece casts.
Gigafactory Berlin is expected to start with the production of the Model Y, and as it turns out, the all-electric crossover happens to represent Tesla’s latest innovations. Among this is the company’s use of large castings for the Model Y’s rear underbody, which Tesla noted will only get even more optimized over time. Elon Musk himself has mentioned that eventually, the Model Y will have a rear body comprised of a single piece, including crash rails.
These, according to the CEO, will be due to the company’s utilization of the appropriately-named “Giga Press,” the largest casting machine in the market today. It is then interesting to see that Gigafactory Berlin, which is expected to produce the Model Y crossover, the Model 3 sedan, and Tesla’s later vehicles, is being equipped with eight of these massive casting machines.
Considering the number of “Giga Presses” in the Giga Berlin complex, it appears that the Model Y will not be the only EV produced onsite that will be utilizing single-piece casts. The Model 3 seems to be a shoo-in for such an innovation, especially since the two vehicles already share numerous parts. It should also be noted that using large casts for the production of vehicles is a way to optimize costs and production times. Thus, if Tesla could master the use of its “Giga Press” machines, the company may have a good chance of developing a strategy that would allow it to create low-cost vehicles that are still profitable.
Tesla is still a young company, and over the years, the electric car maker has transitioned from a niche automaker that makes fast sports cars like the original Roadster to a mass-market carmaker that makes family crossovers like the Model Y. But even with this progress, Tesla is yet to learn how to produce profitable, low-cost vehicles en masse. Incumbents like Toyota, which Tesla overtook as the world’s most valuable automaker by market cap, have mastered this, as represented by mass-market vehicles like the Yaris, which is low-cost and still profitable.
Tesla’s filings have not revealed what the eight giant casting machines will be used for, though their number seems to suggest that they are allotted for vehicles beyond the Model Y and Model 3. If Tesla is indeed looking to produce a smaller, more affordable car in Europe that could compete with wildly-popular EVs like the Renault Zoe (rumored in the Tesla community as a potential “Model 2”), developing a production line that optimizes cost and manufacturing output definitely seems like a strategic move — even if that line includes the utilization of the world’s largest casting machines.