Geely's EV brand Zeekr is the latest to join a growing list of automakers that have turned to the Giga Press die casting technique pioneered by Tesla to slash the cost of electric cars.
Zeekr's manufacturing technology chief Jiang Kehong told Reuters the Chinese brand had started using massive aluminum die casts to make a large rear underbody section of its Zeekr 009 six-seat, multi-purpose van.
He said the technique had helped Zeekr eliminate almost 800 welding points, cut defects, made the car lighter, and boosted its structural stiffness, in turn improving the ride of the MPV which went on sale in China this year.
"In the future, Zeekr will use giga-casting technology on more models," Jiang said.
Zeekr's shift to the Giga Press technique comes at the same time Chinese rival Xpeng has adopted a new vehicle platform technology that also mimics the way Tesla designs and manufactures electric cars.
Metal and plastic die casting has long been used in manufacturing, but its application to large aluminum underbodies in carmaking is relatively new.
The newest and biggest press made by Idra has a clamping force of over 9,000 tons. It can punch out the front and rear underbodies which support the car's outer skin and provide a platform for suspension components.
The front and rear sections are then connected with large under-floor battery packs to form a three-piece EV chassis.
The use of the heavy casting machines, dubbed "Giga Presses" by Tesla, has helped simplify manufacturing and cut costs by up to 40 percent in some areas, according to Riccardo Ferrario, general manager of Idra, based in Brescia near Milan.