Tesla’s coming years and its ambitious ramp towards a production target of 20 million vehicles per year would be built on the back of the Giga Press, a massive house-sized machine capable of producing single-piece front and rear vehicle underbodies. Using components produced from the Giga Press, Tesla is able to optimize its vehicles’ components, effectively helping the company reduce its manufacturing costs.
As it turns out, there is a reason why Tesla is the only automaker — at least for now — currently using machines like the Giga Press. As noted by Liu Siong Song, founder of LK Technology, which acquired Italian casting company IDRA in 2008, Tesla was actually heavily involved in the design and production of the Giga Press.
According to Mr. Liu, Tesla worked side by side with LK Technology for over a year to make the Giga Press. The executive described this process in a statement to The New York Times. “Every once in a while, they would ask us whether it was possible to do this or that. With each revision they made, we needed to make change in our machine, too,” the LK Technology founder said.
Interestingly enough, Mr. Liu’s roots are a perfect match for Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s idea of creating full-sized vehicles like toy cars. This is because, in LK Tech’s early days, the company was supplying machines used for making toys. This means that LK Technology, over the years, transitioned from helping build toy cars to now helping build real-life electric cars.
Tesla’s Giga Press approach has inspired other Chinese carmakers, with LK set to supply giant casting machines to six Chinese companies by early 2022. This shows, at least to a point, that Tesla’s way of making cars is now inspiring other automakers in China. Having a Giga Press is but the first step, however, as the LK founder noted that even among Chinese carmakers, some are struggling to find the type and talent that Tesla’s workforce is known for.
Thus, even if there is a growing demand for unique Tesla-inspired innovations like the Giga Press, a wave for EV makers that use the same technologies may not be coming anytime in the immediate future. “Many Chinese automakers are talking to us about building the machines, but the majority of them are still in the design process. We have a bottleneck in designers in China,” Mr. Liu said.
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