Mega Headaches: Volvo eyes Tesla-style megacasts for next-gen vehicles

Stockholm, Sweden — Volvo cars hopes its future use of aluminum megacastings for automotive body parts will boost the automaker’s ability to reach sustainability targets.

Over the next few years, the Swedish automaker is investing 10 billion crowns  ($1.1 billion) to its Torslanda plant⁠—the automaker’s largest and oldest facility⁠—to prepare the site for the production of Volvo’s next generation of fully electric cars.

The investment includes a battery production centre and other improvements in the manufacturing process⁠, including a revamped paint shop, but Volvo is hoping the real game-changer will be its use of aluminum megacastings, claiming benefits in the method’s ability to product lightweight parts while simultaneously boosting Volvo’s sustainability targets.

 “This is the biggest technology shift since we switched from wood to steel [for car bodies],” Volvo Solution Architect Mikael Fermer told Automotive News Europe

Javier Varela, Volvo’s head of engineering and operations, noted the shift to megacasts could result in 75 percent time savings, compared to how large aluminum body parts are traditionally put together. 

“You avoid the stamping and welding processes and replace them with a megacasting process that is a one-shot injection, followed by some tweaks,” he said. 

While megacastings may mean headaches saved for vehicle manufacturers and assembly plant staff, collision repairers are as convinced the emerging trend touts benefits. 

“If you’re in a major crash and the safety equipment and other external parts that are bolted to the frame do not absorb the impact, and the frame itself is damaged, the cost to repair that damage is going to be so high that most cars will be totalled anyway. Repairing unibody frames made of [high-strength steel for weight reduction reasons] is extremely costly,” vented one repairer responding to a social media post on Volvo’s news.

Tesla’s Model Y megacasting uses two huge single castings for the front and rear underbody sections to connect to another casting for the battery pack, which also serves as a stressed member of the body structure.


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