Tesla started the trend toward using high pressure casting machines to make chassis components for its cars. Now NIO and XPeng are following Tesla’s lead and ordering similar machines for their own manufacturing facilities. According to CnEVPost, last week Guangdong Hongtu Technology announced that it has signed an agreement with LK Technology, the parent company of Idra, to provide 6,800-ton die-casting machines to both NIO and XPeng.
That’s just the beginning. Guangdong Hongtu also said that 12,000-ton super die-casting machines are in development. To put this news in perspective, Tesla is currently using a 6,000-ton integrated die-casting machine to produce the Model Y and there are media reports it will use an 8,000-ton integrated die-casting machine to manufacture chassis parts for the Cybertruck.
Compared with traditional chassis manufacturing that welds, stamps, and glues multiple small pieces together, die-casting can help reduce the number of parts needed to manufacture a car. Eliminating many of the steps usually associated with vehicle assembly can result in significant cost savings and lighter cars.
We reported last month that Liu Siong Song, the founder of LK Technology, says his company is working with 6 Chinese auto manufacturers, but there aren’t enough qualified engineers in China at present to make the transition to die-casting possible. NIO and XPeng have solved that problem, apparently.
Last December, when NIO announced its new ET5 sedan, CnEVPost asked NIO founder William Li whether his company plans to introduce die-casting machines to its manufacturing process. “We are using an integrated die-casting process for the rear subframe of the ET5,” Li said. After checking the technical specifications for the ET5, it determined that the car does utilize an integrated hollow-cast aluminum rear sub-frame which reduces weight by 13 kilograms and permits 11 liters of storage in the trunk.
NIO Confirms European Plans
Also last week, NIO CEO William Li confirmed that deliveries of the company’s new ET5 electric sedan would begin in China in the latter part of this year and in Europe in the spring of 2023. Norway will be the first country to get the ET5, followed by Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so they say, and if that is true, Tesla should be very flattered by the ET5. It is sleek, svelte, and sexy, and if it reminds people of the Model 3, that is no accident. NIO is making some lofty claims for the car, which will feature dual motors and offer 3 battery sizes — 75 kWh, 100 kWh, and 150 kWh. The largest battery is touted as having 1000 kilometers of range by the very generous NEDC standard popular in China.
NIO says the largest battery will be “solid-state” although there is little information about what that actually means. It reportedly will have an energy density of 360 Wh/kg. The entry level car will be cost the equivalent of around $53,000. We shall see whether the actual car lives up to the company’s claims.
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