Volvo Cars announced a 10 billion SEK (€960 million/$1.1 billion) investment in its largest manufacturing plant - the Torslanda plant (northwest of Gothenburg city center) in Sweden - in preparation for the production of that next generation of fully electric cars.
The site, which opened in April 1964, currently operates on three shifts and employs around 6,500 people. Its annual production capacity is about 300,000 cars.
Thanks to the investment, a number of new and more sustainable technologies and manufacturing processes will be introduced at the plant, according to the company, This include:
- mega casting of aluminum body parts
(more on that below)
- a new battery assembly plant
"A new battery assembly plant will integrate battery cells and modules in the floor structure of the car"
- fully refurbished paint and final assembly shops
"new machinery and implementing new processes, which are expected to support the ongoing reduction of paint shop energy consumption and emissions"
It's another crucial step in the transition towards a 100% electric car company by 2030. Earlier this month, Volvo announced a 50 GWh battery plant (joint venture with Northvolt), which will be built in Gothenburg.
The most interesting thing is the official announcement about the mega casting of aluminum body parts, which was first pioneered in high-scale EVs by Tesla.
"The introduction of mega casting of aluminum body parts for the next generation of electric Volvo models is the most significant and exciting change implemented as part of the investment package. Mega casting creates a number of benefits in terms of sustainability, cost and car performance during the car’s lifetime, and Volvo Cars is one of the first carmakers to invest in this process."
Volvo notes that the use of mega castings will reduce the number of parts, as well as the overall complexity of manufacturing. Costs and weight will decrease too. It also should improve interior space optimization.
"Casting major parts of the floor structure of the car as one single aluminum part reduces weight, which in turn improves the energy efficiency and thereby the electric range of the car. This also allows Volvo designers to optimally use the available space inside the cabin and luggage area, boosting the overall versatility of the car.
Other benefits from mega casting include reduced complexity in the manufacturing process. That, in turn, creates cost savings in terms of material use and logistics, reducing the overall environmental footprint across the manufacturing and supply chain networks."
Next-generation Volvo electric cars
The second-generation electric Volvos are coming soon (in 2022, starting with the all-electric successor of the XC90 in Ridgeville, South Carolina).
The third-generation BEVs are expected to offer very high range, up to 1,000 km (621 miles), and will use a structural battery.