Published on March 19th, 2018 | by Steve Hanley0
LSEV 3D-Printed Electric Car Costs Just $7,500. How Is That Possible?
March 19th, 2018 by Steve Hanley
XEV, a company few have ever heard of, is showing off its LSEV 3D-printed electric car at the China 3D Printing Cultural Museum in Shanghai this week. It will be featured a month from now at the Beijing auto show, according to a report on China Daily. The diminutive two-seater could be the world’s first mass produced 3D-printed electric car.
The LSEV is a collaboration between XEV, a startup company located in Turin, Italy, and Chinese 3D-printing specialist Polymaker. At a joint press conference in Shanghai last week, the two companies told the press, “Although this new vehicle attracts much attention, this conference is not just about launching and exhibiting the car, it is more about how 3D printing technology brings revolutionary changes to automotive manufacturing industry. This car, named LSEV, could be the milestone product in the adoption of 3D printing into mainstream production.”
Before we get into specifics about the car, is this just more vaporware from some people looking to attract investors? Apparently not. XEV and the LSEV are real, according to 3D Printing Media Network. It was skeptical at first, but did some sleuthing and determined that XEV is a registered business corporation in Italy with an address in Turin. That city is home to Fiat and is to Italy what Detroit is to the US. Among other things, Turin has lots of auto parts suppliers that support the car manufacturing industry in the area.
XEV claims it has already taken 7,000 pre-orders for the car from Poste Italiane and Arval, a car sharing service owned by BNP Paribas. Interest is also said to be high in China.
The LSEV may not raise your heart rate the way a Tesla Model S P100D does, but it could be the answer to many people’s prayers for an electric car that actually costs less than a conventional car. So let’s get to the specs, shall we? The LSEV is small, as in really small. It has a top speed of 43 mph and a range of 90 miles. It weighs a featherlight 450 kilograms (992 pounds). That’s less than a Formula One car.
With the exception of the glass, seats, and chassis, virtually all the pieces of the car are 3D-printed. That is the real story here. 3D printing means a new car can be created in just 3 to 12 months versus the 3 to 5 years needed for a conventional car. The LSEV has only 57 parts compared to well over 2000 parts in a typical car. Fewer parts means lower costs. News reports vary on the price of the car, with CNBC quoting $7,500 while the Daily Mail quotes the same number but in Pounds Sterling — $10,500 at current exchange rates.
Whatever the correct number, production is scheduled to begin at the end of this year, with the first deliveries set to begin in Europe and Asia in the second quarter of 2019. At the present time, it takes three days to complete one car using 3D-printed parts.
“XEV is the first real mass production project using 3D printing. By saying real, I mean there are also lots of other companies using 3D printing for production. But nothing can really compare with XEV in terms of the size, the scale, and the intensity,” says Dr. Luo Xiaofan, the co-founder and CEO of Polymaker. Local Motors already builds 3D-printed cars, but they are available in limited quantities and cost much more than the LSEV.
The LSEV bears more than a passing resemblance to the Baojun E100, a small two-seat electric car developed by General Motors in cooperation with Chinese partner SAIC. That car costs between $15,000 and $17,500, but government incentives reduce the cost to customers to under $7,500 for the base model. Just imagine what those incentives will do for the LSEV in China. Even if the price is $10,000 as the Daily Mail claims, that means Chinese customers will be able to drive one home for just over $5,000.