• December 9, 2023

How VW’s Trinity project aims to catch up with Tesla

Tesla’s Gruenheide press shop can produce 17 components in under six minutes. With six more giga presses on the way, Tesla will soon be making the front of the car with the giga press too.

“That is why we are so fast,” the spokesperson said.

The giga casting technique that VW plans to adopt was popularized by Tesla as an alternative to the more labor-intensive method of assembling multiple stamped metal panels with crumple zones to absorb energy during a crash.

BMW has rejected large castings in the past on the grounds that the higher costs of repair outweigh the lower manufacturing costs.

But advocates say automated driving technology will reduce the frequency of accidents: “Tesla is designing a vehicle that most likely will not be in a severe crash,” Cory Steuben, president of manufacturing consulting firm Munro & Associates, said.

Idra, the Italian company that produces giga presses, has declined to say whether it is working with Tesla, despite industry insiders confirming that the automaker’s German plant uses their products to create the front and rear underbody platform for the Model Y.

In a recent interview with Automotive News Europe, Idra CEO Riccardo Ferrario said that VW and Volvo were the automakers that are closest to deciding on whether to move to megacasting for their future vehicles.

VW’s ‘human-robot cooperation’

While VW can produce certain models such as the Tiguan or Polo in 18 and 14 hours in Germany and Spain respectively, its ID3, made in Zwickau, a factory juggling six models from three VW brands, still takes 30 hours to put together.

At the Trinity plant, multiple work steps will be condensed into one through automation, shrinking the size of the body shop and reducing the number of jobs requiring uncomfortable physical labor, Vollmer said, calling it an expansion of “human-robot cooperation.”

VW does not plan to have giga presses at the new Trinity plant in Wolfsburg and will instead use the equipment at its factory in Kassel about 160 km (100 miles) away and transport the products by train.

U.S. investment bank JPMorgan predicts that Tesla’s Gruenheide factory will produce about 54,000 cars in 2022, 280,000 in 2023 and then 500,000 by 2025.

VW, which delivered about 452,000 battery-electric vehicles globally last year, has not yet set an output target for Trinity, which will use its Scalable Systems Platform.