Gigacasting is changing the automotive industry. The technology was pioneered by Tesla and gave the EV maker a substantial lead in the EV market by cutting out several components and processes with a single press by a massive 9,000-ton machine.
We've seen the company's peers follow suit. Just last week, Volvo bought two new 9,000-ton presses about the size of a small house. Toyota seems a bit further behind, unveiling a recent prototype that can build a third of a car body in three minutes. Meanwhile, Tesla is die casting the entire underbody of an EV. Ford and Hyundai are also in the giga game, but we hadn't heard much from GM, until this week.
According to Reuters, General Motors just bought Tooling & Equipment International (TEI), a lesser known company that was an important Tesla supplier. TEI is a sand casting specialist that pushed forward the design and development of Tesla's gigacasting molds and solidified the automaker’s position at the head of the EV market. According to Reuters, it was TEI's technology that allowed Tesla to cast increasingly complex parts.
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Now, as Tesla is toying with the prospect of a low-cost $25,000 EV, GM could make a significant leap forward not just in gigacasting, but in more efficient production.
Tesla isn't exactly left in the lurch, but it will be forced to rely on its other suppliers while it tries to find a new sand casting dance partner. According to people close to the situation, the move could force Tesla to try and bring the technology in-house to prevent future disruptions.
In a statement, GM said it acquired TEI to "secure access to unique casting technology." But it likely didn't hurt that GM was snagging a key piece to Tesla's gigacasting puzzle.