Integrated Die-Casting From 0 to 1: Building Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Barriers


Integrated die casting is an inevitable trend driven by lightweight and cost reduction and efficiency improvement. Lightweighting of automobiles is the trend, and the increasing demand for cost reduction and efficiency further drives weight reduction of automobiles. Integrated die-casting significantly improves quality and efficiency: on the one hand, the one-time die-casting of assembly components greatly simplifies manufacturing processes and processes, saving time and improving efficiency; On the other hand, it significantly reduces the manufacturing costs of the production line. The advantages of aluminum integrated die casting are evident in terms of comprehensive material and process costs. At the current raw material price, the single vehicle material and manufacturing cost of integrated die-casting aluminum body is 10600 yuan, which is far lower than the 14400 yuan for all aluminum stamping welded body and the 12000 yuan for steel aluminum mixed welded body, and is basically close to the steel welded body. In the long run, with the stabilization of aluminum prices, the cost reduction effect of aluminum integrated die casting will further improve.


Integrated Die-Casting From 0 to 1: Building Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Barriers

Technological breakthroughs in various links of equipment, molds, materials, and processes have assisted in the implementation of large-scale integrated mass production. Equipment side: Breakthrough in the development of large-scale die-casting machines. Mold end: Mature high-precision molds for complex components. Material end: The development of non heat treated alloy materials makes integrated die-casting more reliable. Process side: Integrated quality control requires higher requirements and still has high technical barriers.


The market volume and price have both increased, and the space is vast. Die casting manufacturers have benefited from the high growth of the industry, resulting in a significant increase in the value of their bicycles. If the integrated casting is expanded to cover the entire range of body and chassis, the value of a single car is expected to reach 21400 to 23600 yuan. With the increasing penetration rate of integrated vehicle body applications, the application of skateboard chassis and CTC continues to accelerate. The scale of the integrated die-casting market is expected to reach as high as 40 billion yuan in 2025. The downstream supply chain of third-party die casting factories is wide, and the technology and cost advantages are optimized. In terms of chassis manufacturing, integrated die-casting enterprises are indispensable as basic suppliers; In terms of body manufacturing, with a wide downstream supply chain and cost advantages brought by technology and scale effects, the market prospects are promising.


Integrated die-casting is the foundation for highly integrated body and chassis

The continuous integration and simplification of current body design, as well as the platform and modularization of the chassis, indicate that in the future, both overall body and chassis manufacturing will develop towards a highly integrated direction. Among them, integrated die casting, as the foundation and core technology for achieving integration, is expected to achieve high prosperity. Integrated die-casting technology is the foundation for further highly integrated vehicle body and chassis. Integrated die-casting refers to the process of highly integrating multiple individual and dispersed aluminum alloy components through a large tonnage die-casting machine, forming 1-2 large aluminum castings once again, replacing the method of stamping and welding multiple components together. Currently, the car body has started to achieve integrated die-casting in zones; With the highly integrated CTC battery pack and the advancement of skateboard chassis, the chassis structure, motor and electronic control components, etc., will also develop from modular integrated die-casting to ultra large integrated die-casting.


Integrated transformation of body manufacturing

Currently, Tesla is promoting further integration of body manufacturing, which greatly simplifies the structural composition of the entire vehicle into four parts through integrated die-casting: ① front cabin integrated die-casting assembly+② passenger cabin structural die-casting assembly+③ integrated battery structural die-casting assembly+④ rear floor integrated die-casting assembly. According to Tesla’s press conference, it replaced the entire lower body assembly consisting of 370 parts with three large die-casting parts (front floor of the vehicle, upper cover of the CTC battery pack, middle floor of the vehicle, and rear floor of the vehicle), achieving an overall weight reduction of 10% and an increase in battery life of 14%.


Integrated die-casting of ModelY body rear floor for mass production

In July 2019, Tesla released a new patent titled “Multi directional Body Integrated Casting Machine and Related Casting Methods for Automotive Frames”, proposing a frame integrated casting technology and related casting machine design that will complete the majority of frame casting work on one machine. In September 2020, Tesla announced on Battery Day that Model Y will adopt an integrated die-cast rear floor assembly, using a steel aluminum hybrid body, which can reduce the weight of the lower body assembly by 30%, reduce manufacturing costs by 40%, and greatly simplify the body production process. The manufacturing time is shortened from 1-2 hours in the traditional stamping welding painting final assembly manufacturing process to 2-3 minutes in the integrated die-casting process.


In the rear integrated die-casting assembly, the left and right wheelhouses, two collapsed (energy absorbing) areas, and two crossbeams are the main components. The two crossbeams connect the wheelhouses and collapsed areas on both sides and are connected to the passenger compartment frame and structural battery. Collapse zone 1 includes some wave shaped hollow structures and some open or closed horn designs to better achieve energy absorption during the collision process. Collapse zone 2 is mainly designed with X-shaped structural supports, as well as open or closed horn shapes to increase or reduce the spacing between two reinforcing ribs.


The integrated die-casting assembly of the front cabin of the vehicle has started testing

In May 2021, Tesla’s integrated front cabin assembly casting test has also been revealed offline, mainly consisting of left and right wheel covers, collapse energy absorption zones, crossbeams, as well as end faces connected to the vehicle body and structural end faces connected to the front collision beam or front end of the vehicle. The overall weight is about 130kg.There are three collapse zones in the front cabin, designed with a C-shaped (reinforced rib) structure. Two of them are close to the front end of the car, and when a collision occurs, they will first undergo plastic changes for buffering and energy absorption; The last one is close to the passenger compartment, preventing structural components from invading while collapsing and absorbing energy, ensuring the safety of personnel inside the vehicle.


After CTC, the upper box is integrated into the middle of the lower body

In addition to the front and rear body panels, the middle part is served as the middle body panel by the upper box of the CTC battery. The design of the upper cover integrated body integrates the upper cover of the original battery pack and the original vehicle floor. For example, the bottom of the Model Y equipped with a 4680 battery pack is hollowed out, and the battery pack serves as the middle floor of the vehicle. The seats of the vehicle are directly installed on the upper box of the battery pack.


New forces join hands with third-party die casting factories to quickly follow up

In addition to Tesla, new power car manufacturers such as NIO and Xiaopeng have also begun to layout integrated die-casting rear floor panels.


NIO collaborates with Nantong Xiongbang and Chongqing Meilixin, supported by these two suppliers for integrated die-casting. In October 2021, NIO officially announced the successful verification and development of heat treatment free materials that can be used to manufacture large die-casting parts, and the new materials will be applied to vehicle models on the second generation platform; And in December 2021, the new car ET5 was released, which uses an integrated die-casting process for the rear seat panel.


Xiaopeng’s Wuhan factory has not only planned conventional stamping, welding, and coating workshops, but also added an integrated die-casting process workshop, which will introduce more than one ultra large die-casting island and automated production line; The Zhaoqing factory is supplied with integrated die-casting by Guangdong Hongtu (18.140, -0.30, -1.63%).


The integrated super large die-casting body rear cabin structural components jointly launched by Gaohe Automobile and Tuopu Group (55.940, -1.56, -2.71%) were officially mass produced in February 2022, and this technology will be applied in large quantities in the company’s subsequent models. Xiaokang recently stated that it has entered the comprehensive research and development stage of integrated die-casting body.


Xiaokang Automobile also announced in 2022 that it plans to achieve integrated die-casting body manufacturing by the end of 2022 or the first half of 2023.


Traditional OEMs are also accelerating the integration of die-casting body layout

In addition to new forces, traditional car companies such as Volvo, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes Benz, etc. have also begun to layout integrated die-casting processes for body and chassis, which means that the promotion of integrated die-casting applications is further accelerated.


Traditional OEMs are also accelerating the integration of die-casting body layout

In addition to new forces, traditional car companies such as Volvo, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes Benz, etc. have also begun to layout integrated die-casting processes for body and chassis, which means that the promotion of integrated die-casting applications is further accelerated.


Volkswagen plans to introduce integrated die-casting technology for the new generation of electric vehicles (Trinity project)

According to a recent report on the website of the German newspaper “Business Daily”, Volkswagen will establish a new factory in Wolfsburg, Germany to produce the first batch of Trinity pure electric vehicles in order to produce the new generation of electric vehicles (Trinity project). At the same time, integrated die-casting technology is introduced in the project to avoid the use of single sheets, thereby significantly improving the company’s production efficiency.


Chassis: Battery factory+skateboard chassis company+host factory entry, accelerating technology application

Currently, battery manufacturers, skateboard chassis companies, including host manufacturers, are all developing chassis towards a higher level of integration. The various systems and structural components of the chassis will also benefit from the breakthrough and maturity of integrated die-casting technology, achieving high integration.


Due to the entry of skateboard chassis companies and battery factories, the overall development speed of the industry is expected to further accelerate, with integrated die-casting as the core technology, which is expected to achieve further growth in prosperity.


The modularization and integration of the chassis continue to develop, and integrated die-casting has been piloted in modules

As early as the 2012 Tokyo press conference, Tesla had already embedded hardware such as battery packs, brake by wire, suspension, and motors into the chassis with a highly integrated design. The BYD (250.850, 1.85, 0.74%) E platform and Volkswagen MEB platform are also products of continuous integration of the chassis. By integrating traditional discrete components into more integrated platforms such as three in one and five in one, the optimization and simplification of structures such as wiring harnesses and connectors can be achieved.


Among them, BYD E platform 1.0 realizes the platformization of key components of three electric vehicles; E2.0 achieves modularization of key chassis systems, such as electric drive in three, multi in one electrical control, etc. The E-platform 3.0 released in 2021 will platformize the entire vehicle chassis architecture, including an eight in one (vehicle controller, motor controller, on-board charger, drive motor, battery manager, high-voltage distribution box, DC converter, reducer) electric powertrain, integrated design of battery and vehicle body.


The current concept of skateboard chassis is also further developed from the foundation of integrated and modular chassis. It is a large component that integrates the software and hardware of the chassis with a high degree of integration. Integrate hundreds of original components of the chassis into three modules and 10 components:

-Front axle: suspension, subframe, motor, electric drive, steering gear. Structural components such as frame suspension can be simplified in manufacturing process through integrated die casting. Electric motors, electric drives, and other components can also be integrated using integrated die-casting technology such as three in one.

-Mid bridge: battery pack, thermal management, and related components. By integrating die casting of battery trays and related structural components, a highly integrated effect is achieved.

-Rear axle: suspension, subframe, motor. Integrated die casting can also be used to highly integrate components.

-Layout the integrated chassis project after CTC to accelerate industry advancement

-Rivian, Pix, Yupao, and other skateboard chassis layouts accelerate the integrated application of catfish effect


Integrated die casting is an important technical foundation for achieving highly integrated skateboard chassis. The current so-called skateboard chassis refers to the separation of the body and chassis through design, while the core manufacturing process is the platform based modular production of the chassis through integrated die-casting.


From a global perspective, currently in the United States, Rivian and Canoo; Domestic Pix, Yupao, and others are all laying out skateboard chassis projects.

(1) Rivian skateboard chassis

Rivian was founded in 2009 as an electric vehicle manufacturer in the United States. Started researching the production of electric vehicles in 2011. The most core technology is “skateboard chassis technology”, which integrates components such as batteries, electric transmission systems, suspension, and brakes into the chassis in advance.


(2) Canno skateboard chassis

Canno was established in 2018, with Ulrich Kranz, the former project manager of the BMW i3 series, serving as the CEO. Its design concept continues the “LifeDrive” structure of the BMW i3, where the upper half is a module for the passenger compartment; The lower part is the Drive module, which includes the chassis and powertrain. Multiple models of Canoo share the lower half of the chassis module, and different functions and roles are achieved by replacing different upper half modules.


(3) Pix releases the 2nd generation skateboard chassis, achieving chassis integration through integrated die-casting

Like Rivian and Canoo product architectures, PIX Moving also focuses on the development of skateboard chassis. The entire chassis adopts full line control technology, making the driving system, steering system, transmission system, and braking system highly integrated, and greatly simplifying the mechanical structure. At the same time, the super chassis adopts software definition to create a native intelligent vehicle development model. Automotive manufacturing does not require the development of complete vehicles from scratch, but only requires customized installation applications based on a universal chassis, which can quickly and flexibly develop vehicles for different purposes such as passenger cars and commercial vehicles. In 2020, Pix began producing unmanned functional vehicle products covering 28 scenarios with over 100 customers and delivering them to ten countries. Several products are about to be mass-produced in the near future, including fully autonomous L4 class minibuses, unmanned delivery vehicles, unmanned cleaning vehicles, etc.


(4) Leisurely running

Yupao Technology was established in 2021 and is committed to developing standardized UP super chassis. The core capabilities of Yupao’s UP super chassis, which is highly integrated with intelligent electric vehicles, include three electric, suspension, braking, steering, intelligent driving system, and thermal management system. It is a soft and hard integrated operating system designed for the freedom of car manufacturing.

Currently, we believe that with the entry of battery manufacturers and skateboard chassis manufacturers, it is expected to accelerate the development of chassis integration through the catfish effect; As the most fundamental and core integrated die-casting market space, it is also expected to accelerate its opening.