Tesla backs away from the giant “gigacasted” chassis

Massive diecastings appear to be too expensive for mass production. Am I the only one who saw this coming?


The invention of gigantic diecasting machines has made it possible for Tesla to cast front and rear subframe assemblies as a single unit. But the predicted move to a single large diecast chassis for the upcoming small vehicle project appears to have been abandoned, according to a recent Reuters report. 

While technically possible, there are serious engineering questions about the practicality of a one-piece diecast chassis. With Ford having pioneered high-volume mass production of stamped aluminum bodies, using welding and adhesives, high-strength, light weight and low cost are clearly possible with existing technology. 
As a carrier for preassembled mechanical units, subframes make a lot of sense from an assembly perspective, but if the entire chassis is one diecasting, suspension, brakes and powertrains must be installed individually, unless they in turn are built up on their own subframes, a little like Russian dolls. The concept quickly becomes unworkable. And it appears that Tesla agrees. 

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Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for ENGINEERING.com. Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.