China is about to mass produce 3D-printed cars on the cheap.
3D printers are all the rage in manufacturing circles. Being able to create almost anything from a single device is revolutionizing the way stuff is made, making it possible for a single factory to produce many different products, or allowing that same factory to produce a single complex product when it previously needed many factories and a final assembly plant.
X Electrical Vehicle (XEV) is leveraging the power of the 3D printer to make small, 2-seater electric cars for the domestic Chinese market. Their prototype car, the LSEV, showcases the car’s futuristic styling and capabilities: a top speed of 70 kph (43 mph) and an estimated range of 150 km (93 miles).
Their little car might not win any endurance races, but the price is certainly right. Starting at 60,000 yuan ($9,478), XEV intends to market their new car to urban commuters and companies in need of a small, efficient vehicle, such as postal services. The company says they’ve already received orders for 7000 vehicles and intends to begin production in the second quarter of 2019.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, senior designer Guo Xiaozheng said that the primary customer for XEV will be mainland China. “China is the biggest market for our cars,” he said. “Talks with several mainland industrial zones to set up production lines are now at a late stage.”
XEV began when Guo along with a handful of Chinese auto professionals banded together to form their own tech startup less than a year ago. Guo says that due to the modular way 3D printing facilities are made, XEV can create and produce a new model car with only 4 months of development time--something that’s unheard of for an automaker.
The LSEV took somewhat longer to create as it was their first car. It’s also made of nylon, something that the company intends to change with the final production model for something more sturdy and even less costly.
“Production costs can be slashed further as volume increases and by 2024, the total costs for our cars will be cut by half,” said Guo.