Elon Musk's influence on the automotive world is now greater than it's ever been.
There's no question Tesla has changed the automotive industry. It's important to understand this wasn't done with all-electric vehicles alone, but also how those vehicles communicate with a central "hive," like over-the-air updates, and how they're manufactured. Tesla's mega casting technique for large aluminum body components is an ideal example. And, very soon, Volvo intends to do the same.
The Swedish carmaker has just announced plans to invest 10 billion Swedish krona (about $1.1 billion) in its Torslanda manufacturing plant in Sweden for its upcoming EV lineup. Along with mega casting, the investments include a new battery assembly plant and fully refurbished paint and final assembly shops. This is in addition to a previously announced investment of 30 billion SEK ($3.28 billion) to develop and build the next generation of EV batteries together with battery manufacturer Northvolt.
The combined investments are critical components to Volvo's goal of becoming an all-electric vehicle brand by 2030. "With these investments we take an important step towards our all-electric future and prepare for even more advanced and better electric Volvos," said CEO Hakan Samuelsson. "Torslanda is our largest plant and will play a crucial role in our ongoing transformation as we move towards becoming a pure electric car maker by 2030."
Currently, Volvo's two EVs consist of the XC40 Recharge and C40 Recharge. A battery-electric version of the upcoming next-generation XC90 SUV will arrive in 2023, likely based on the Concept Recharge. It's important to understand just how big of a role mega casting plays in EVs.
Not only is production time dramatically improved, but the technique also avoids the stamping and welding processes entirely. Mega casting is the process of molding a vehicle's section with as many components built into the piece as possible. This is more sustainable, weight-saving, and improves the long-term cost and performance attributes of the car throughout its lifetime. The technique further enables designers to maximize passenger and cargo volume.
Torslanda, which happens to be Volvo's oldest plant (it opened in 1964), has an annual production capacity of 300,000 vehicles and currently employs roughly 6,500 people. Volvo further plans to refurbish the plant's logistic areas for improved material flow and transportation of goods.