Volvo Cars has chosen Swiss supplier Bühler to help it transition its biggest, oldest car plant toward a Tesla-utilized technique known as megacasting.
Volvo picks Swiss supplier to help with megacasting move
The automaker's biggest, oldest car plant will use two of Bühler's largest die-casting solutions to floor structures in EVs.
Get to know Bühler
- Bühler was founded in 1860 and has been active in die casting for more than 90 years. The family-owned company is based in Uzwil, Switzerland.
- Bühler has three business pillars: Grains & Food, Consumer Foods and Advanced Materials. The Advanced Materials unit produces megacasting solutions for automakers and suppliers.
- Handtmann, a Germany-based light metal foundry, has invested "a mid-double-digit million amount in megacasting." That includes one of Bühler's die-casting cells.
Volvo has purchased two of Bühler's largest die-casting solutions to produce structural castings for next-generation EVs that will be made in Torslanda, Sweden.
When asked which other companies bid on the contract a Volvo spokesperson said the automakers had talks with "different leading machine manufacturers" before deciding on Bühler.
The field is very limited at the moment. Bühler launched its megacasting products in 2021, while its chief rival, Idra, debuted its solution, which it calls the Giga Press, in 2019.
Idra says it took three years and 1.8 million euros ($1.97 million) to make its Giga Press a reality.
While Idra, a Chinese-owned Italian supplier, is contractually prevented from talking about its customers, Tesla has shown photos of the Giga Presses where Idra's logo is clearly visible.
Those presses are used to cast the front and rear underbodies in a single piece.
Why this is a big deal
The move to megacasting is "the biggest technology shift since we switched from wood to steel" for car bodies, Volvo Solution Architect Vehicle Platform Mikael Fermer told Automotive News Europe last year.
Volvo's head of engineering and operations, Javier Varela, told ANE at the time that megacasting results in a 75 percent time saving compared with how large aluminum body parts are put together now.
Bühler estimates megacasting reduces complexity in production by enabling between 70 to 100 parts to be replaced by a single die-cast part.
The move to the new technique is part of Volvo's 10 billion crown ($940 billion) investment to prepare Torslanda for the company's transformation into an electric-only brand.
Bühler fast facts
- Bühler estimates that half of the new cars sold worldwide have die-cast components produced with its technology.
- In 2021, the company reported a net profit of 113 million Swiss francs ($122.7 million) on revenue of 2.7 billion francs.
Volvo plans to have Torslanda ready for megacasting by 2025, which coincides with the production start for the first full-electric car at the plant, where Volvo currently makes the Volvo XC90 and XC60 SUVs and V90 station wagon.
"Volvo Cars is among the first carmakers to adopt the megacasting process," Cornel Mendler, managing director of Bühler Die Casting, said.
Mercedes-Benz used the one-part casting method to form the rear of the EQXX concept it debuted at the 2022 CES in Las Vegas, while Chinese automaker Nio is also interested in the technology.
Volvo's Torslanda factory, near Gothenburg, which opened in April 1964, will undergo other changes that include adding a battery assembly plant to integrate battery cells and modules in the floor structure of future EVs.
The production changes are supposed to help extend the range, decrease the charging time and lower the cost of Volvo's next-generation EVs, the automaker said.
Volvo wants half of its global sales -- an estimated 600,000 units -- to be battery powered by 2025 and to be an electric-only brand by 2030. To make the transition Volvo has announced investments in the last few years totaling more than $4 billion.