Tesla is partnering with Exco Technologies Limited, a Canadian company that specializes in designing and developing dies, molds, assemblies, and casting for automotive companies, the company’s CEO confirmed on an Earnings Call earlier today.
Tesla has long had a focus on manufacturing efficiencies, and arguably the most efficient, and most popular, was the introduction of the Giga Press. The Giga Press is a massive casting machine developed by Italian company IDRA, which helps Tesla cast the chassis and bodies of its all-electric vehicles in a swift, efficient, and non-time-consuming manner. Tesla has worked with IDRA to develop massive Giga Press machines that will be used at Gigafactory Texas and Gigafactory Berlin. There are already Giga Press machines working at Tesla’s Fremont factory in Northern California.
Now it appears that Tesla’s partnership for casting and molding technologies is going far beyond IDRA. Earlier today, Exco Technologies held its Q3 2021 Earnings Call, where it detailed how Tesla is revolutionizing the manner of automotive manufacturing throughout the entire sector. CEO Darren Kirk said (via Seeking Alpha):
“One key trend that will continue to benefit Exco is the increasing size in complexity of die-cast aluminum components. Tesla has really pushed the envelope on this front using massive Giga Presses, which are much larger die-cast machines than those used previously. This enabled Tesla to cast entire sub frames of the vehicle in one shot with Giga castings, rather than assemble numerous stamped metal components in the body shop, creating significant space and manufacturing efficiency gains. The tooling required to facilitate this process is very large and extremely complex, limiting the number of players able to compete effectively. Our Castool division is already the primary supplier of all shot and tooling for Tesla’s Giga Presses globally. This provides a clear indication of the depth we have in the design and know-how required to meet the challenges of the industry. We expect traditional OEMs will follow Tesla’s lead in using this larger die-cast machines as they transition to an EV future.”
Kirk said that its Castool division, which is a casting and stamping entity owned by Exco, is already supplying Tesla’s Giga Presses with shot-end tooling parts. Kirk stated that he expects Exco’s relationship with Tesla to continue to thrive, especially as Gigafactory Texas and Gigafactory Berlin are concerned.
Kirk also indicated that Exco is involved with Tesla through “all of its divisions,” but he wouldn’t detail explicit evidence that would show how Tesla is being helped by Exco, other than with shot-end tooling. Peter Sklar, an analyst at BMO Capital asked how the two companies were working together, and Kirk stated, “Well, I am not going to speak to whose providing those molds today, but I will say that all of our divisions are involved with Tesla at some level. And they are an important and growing customer across the board, and we see significant opportunity to expand on that.”
Casting could perhaps be Tesla’s biggest advantage as it continues to ramp up manufacturing and assembly efforts at its facilities. Casts for each of its vehicles can be made in a matter of a few seconds, effectively revolutionizing the way automotive bodies are made. Tesla has also shown that casting will play a pivotal role in the company’s decision to move to a structural battery pack, which will increase safety and vehicle rigidity in the event of an accident.