When Elon Musk was interviewed in an episode of the Third Row Podcast earlier this year, he noted that the Model Y crossover’s rear underbody would eventually be built with a single-piece casting. This is quite a bold target, and one that can make the Model Y into one of the most cost-effective vehicles on the market today, electric or otherwise.
Tesla’s single-piece Model Y casting has not been kept a secret. The EV automaker eluded to its Model Y manufacturing improvement in its Q4 2019 Update Letter
“The current version of Model Y has basically two big high-pressure die-cast (HPDC) aluminium castings that are joined and there’s still a bunch of other bits that are attached. Later this year we’ll transition to the rear underbody being a single-piece casting that also integrates the rear crash rails,” Musk remarked.
According to SAE International, Tesla ordered the world’s largest aluminium die-casting machine for the Model Y’s rear underbody from IDRA Group, the company that makes the Giga Press
There are many advantages to using a single-piece cast for the Model Y. The vehicle could be built in a relatively simple manner by using fewer parts, helping the company optimise its production costs. Developing such a design only takes a lot of time and effort, as indicated by Elon Musk in the podcast.
“It gets better. The current castings, because you’ve got to interface with so many different things, we have to CNC machine the interfaces and there’s a bunch of things that have to be joined. They have datums on them and that kind of thing. The single-piece casting has no CNC machining – it doesn’t even have datums. It took us a lot of iterations, by the way, to get there,” the CEO added.
Based on IDRA’s website, the Giga Press has two variants labelled OL 5500 CS and OL 6200 CS after its 5500 ton and 6200-ton presses. Tesla was the first to order IDRA’s OL 5500 CS for the Model Y in 2019. Later, Tesla’s Giga Press was upgraded to OL 6100 CS with specifications from the EV automaker. The machine is 19.5 metres long and 5.2 metres high, and it weighs a whopping 410 tons. That’s roughly as heavy as five Space Shuttles
It appears that Tesla is now at a point where it is ready to pursue the Model Y’s single-piece cast. As indicated in a recent report on SAE Automotive Engineering, Tesla has purchased a machine from the IDRA Group, an Italian firm that makes HPDC equipment. What is rather interesting is that the machine that Tesla purchased is a gargantuan piece of equipment capable of producing the Model Y’s special components.
The machine that Tesla purchased, called the IDRA OL6100 CS, features an upgraded locking force that’s specially designed for the Model Y’s castings. Interestingly enough, the OL6100 CS is fondly dubbed as the ‘Giga Press’ due to its size and power. The machine is 19.5 metres long and 5.2 metres high, and it weighs a whopping 410 tons. That’s roughly as heavy as five Space Shuttles.