Tesla is kicking off its Model Y offensive, with new developments in Fremont and China indicating a ramp up of production of its latest electric vehicle model is imminent.
Reports have come to hand that in Fremont Tesla is already using the newly built “Giga Press”, touted as the “world’s biggest casting machine” that will herald a new age for vehicle production and efficiency.
A recent filing to the Chinese government also suggests the company is preparing to streamline production of the Model 3 with the Model Y in China, by introducing the so-called “chrome delete” to Model 3 features.
Flagged by Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk at the company’s Q1 2020 earnings call as a potentially “revolutionary” development, the Giga Press is expected to greatly improve cost, underbody noise and vibration, as well as weight of the Model Y, further improving efficiency.
The Model Y electric crossover, deliveries for which started in the US in March, is already being hailed as the “world’s most efficient SUV”, a claim backed up by the US-based EPA’s Fuel Economy website.
Musk has previously said he believes the Model Y will be more popular than the Model 3, Model S and Model X combined.
While not yet available in Australia, it is on sale in the US from $US49,990 ($A69,412 converted) and available to pre-order in China from RMB 488,000 ($A98,185 converted).
Tesla has not made any official announcements on English-speaking channels about Giga Press construction, but the company’s Chinese arm was reported as saying on via social media channel Weibo that (according to a translation provided by Tesla blog site Tesmanian and independently confirmed by The Driven), “Multi-directional single casting machine for car body has started operation at Tesla Fremont factory.”
The announcement comes as Tesla’s Model 3 claims top place in “new energy vehicle” sales in China for the month of July, and its Model Y construction facility at the Shanghai Gigafactory 3, which will also house a Giga Press, continues to take shape.
Also referred to as “the machine that builds the machine” by Australia’s own Tesla chair Robyn Denholm, Tesla China said of the Giga Press on Weibo that, “the innovative integrated die-casting machine not only serves the production efficiency, but also improves the integration and performance of Tesla’s vehicle.”
In April Musk confirmed to Tesla vloggers “Third Row Tesla podcast” (TRT) that Tesla has ordered two Giga Press – one from Italy and one from China. It is understood that the former comes via Italy’s Idra Group, which has previously said it had received the “first order in the world” for a 5.5 tonne casting machine.
At the time, Musk told TRT, that Tesla’s Giga Press is “basically around a 6,000-tonne casting machine—the size of a small house basically … We should be starting to set up the one from Italy … next month.”
The news comes as images emerged showing the Giga Press construction well underway.
Presumably, the Chinese-made Giga Press will be installed at the Shanghai Gigafactory, which it is understood will be a 6,000 tonne machine made by Idra’s “sister brand” LK Group.
It is now also understood that Tesla China is preparing to streamline production of the Tesla Model 3 – which topped “new energy vehicle” sales in China in July – with the imminent start of Model Y production.
In recent filings on China’s ministry of industry and information website, the car maker has submitted images of a Model 3 with “chrome delete”, a feature that does away with traditional chrome stylings of door handles and other external car components.
It has been suggested that this would allow Tesla China to ensure smoother integration of Model Y production with the Model 3, which has been made at the Shanghai Gigafactory since late 2019.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.