The Electric Viking stated that Tesla is using a single casting for the complete underbody of the Model Y in the Shanghai plant. It sounded beyond what I could believe so I did more research. Is it true?
I still don’t know. While there is a lot of information on Tesla using gigacastings to make cars and lots of sources talking about using a front and a rear casting I found no other source suggesting that the Model Y was being built with a single casting. So, we need to wait and see. But I did learn many other things.
Lots of sources suggest that the new, smaller Tesla that many refer to as the Model 2 will be made using a single casting. That tends to make sense but that is not something that is currently being built.
One of the things in making a complete car frame is that there are hollow areas to decrease cost and weight. These areas are not hard to make with sand castings with the material slowly poured into the mold but “impossible” using a high-pressure press. Impossible means it is not known how to do it yet. But, traditional sand castings is way too slow a way to make a high-volume car.
The cost of developing a mold for a whole car could cost millions of dollars with revisions costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to revise of 1.5 million to re-do. This is a lot of up-front money for development iterations. There are apparently ways to 3D print temporary molds at a much lower cost to use during the development process which will also significantly reduce the time for each iteration. We do know that Tesla has 3D printers that could be used.
One thing is sure. Tesla is not just resting on its laurels. It has the engineering talent and an interest in innovation. And, finally, it has volume production across which it can amortize its investment. Catching up with Tesla is not going to be easy.