The car that cares

How modularity solves the EV manufacturing riddles, Auto News, ET Auto

By Ashim Sharma

The automotive OEMs are seeking at far more frequent design modifications, facelifts and introduction of far more variants and trims to satisfy the at any time-evolving shopper desire for novelty and variety in car choices, and the stiff level of competition from the incumbents and the new entrants in the marketplace.

The platform-based item improvement partially facilitates the need for introducing variety in design choices. Even so, as the shopper calls for evolve, there is an expanding need for a modular item improvement tactic to raise the pace of customisation in item choices in a small span of time. The added strengths of scale with use of modular architectures are even more catalysing this change.

Modularity is outlined as the degree to which a system is designed of unbiased but interlocking areas. Modularity is a concept engaged in a huge assortment of purposes wherever there are advanced and interconnecting techniques. Even so, a modular system is different from an integral system.

A modular system is designed up of unbiased aspect clusters called modules and these modules are related employing standard interfaces. But an integral system is designed up of unbiased areas connected collectively. In the vehicle marketplace, modularity was introduced with the concept of catering to the most variety of shopper methods while gaining most synergies across equally the item traces and the item variants.

Different aspects of modularity

The transition from an integral to modular architecture requires enablers in the type of modifications in corporation framework and procedures.

This highly beneficial concept of modularity is not just confined to style of items it matches nicely in output as nicely as inter-agency techniques. In output, the primary output traces are divided into sub-traces that can be interconnected to generate multiple line variants achievable. It allows in employing the exact same set of sub-traces to produce a variety of items while keeping the material movement in verify via cohesive modules.

Similarly, modularity finds its purposes in inter-agency techniques wherever the sub-traces can be designed modular and moved exterior the agency to acquire advantage of lessen price tag by suppliers or to obtain from their specialised experience.

The transition from an integral to modular architecture requires enablers in the type of modifications in corporation framework and procedures. A nicely-outlined rule set enables the corporation to maintain regulate above the modifications designed in the modules as it will have an affect on the whole item family members.

Resources like standardized templates for analysing inter-component conversation and style movement assessment, IT techniques and plainly outlined procedures empower structured movement of information. An successful inter-plant information community also requirements to be proven so that learnings from 1 plant are handed on to other crops of the corporation.

From the platform based to modular output

The selection to embrace modularity in the output environment by an OEM will come with a host of elements to be considered. 1 of the most essential elements is the selection to devote in a greenfield modular output facility or update the current output set up to a modular 1. The company circumstance close to the selection would hinge on elements like reusability of the current gear and infrastructure, workforce efficiency and re-skilling things to consider, and technologies upgradation amongst several other people.

Machines: When seeking for upgradation, most of the infrastructure/gear like the presses in the push store or the overhead cranes in the BIW/weld stores and ~90% gear of the paint store can be reused. Even so, significant investments would go for modifying the moulds/dies and applications in the Push Store. Also, the BIW, Powertrain assembly and Ultimate Assembly(TCF) traces will bear significant modifications with regards to the flooring style, vehicle mounting fixtures and programming of robots.

Workforce: The perform articles does not improve appreciably when upgrading from a non-modular output set up to a modular 1. Even so, there may possibly be some efficiency losses in dealing with of new jigs, fixtures, applications, dies and programming of gear

Technologies: While there may possibly not be significant modifications expected in technologies from upgrading from a non-modular output set up to a modular 1, the main investment decision locations would be installation of new hangers, trolleys and rolling kits in the paint store and higher degree of automation and robots across all the stores.

Our estimates recommend that the upgradation of a non-modular plant to fit modular output would need an investment decision to the tune of USD 500 million while placing up a new modular plant would be appreciably higher than this.

From a modular to dedicated xEV line

While the OEMs appeared chaotic resolving the puzzle of change from a non-modular to modular output set up, the environment watch exterior keeps modifying. The dominant megatrend of xEV and the uncertainty close to company volumes introduce another complexity in the previously advanced puzzle. The OEMs now have to come to a decision whether to devote in a dedicated (modular) EV output facility. The complexities with developing an EV contain modifications with respect to the Make vs Buy choices (choices to outsource or maintain the manufacturing of some of the EV specific factors like battery, traction and ability electronics units).

The selection to Make vs. Buy for the OEMs will count on the strategic course the OEMs want to acquire. Just about every have their personal execs and downsides, but we are likely to see far more involvement of the OEMs in the battery & ability electronics technologies to retain the strategic advantage that they experienced for the ICE factors.

The selection to outsource or manufacture will affect the perform articles of the OEMs appreciably. Also, capacity preparing with regards to particular expertise like substantial voltage dealing with vs the lowered perform articles on account of lowered variety of going areas will have to be factored in.

There are two strategic alternatives for the OEMs to perform on – to devote in a dedicated EV output facility (e.g. the Anting MEB plant by VW) or go on to produce EVs in a line intended for ICE car output. Considering that the world wide xEV adoption is now very low, the volumes to justify the company circumstance for a dedicated (modular) line set up may possibly grow to be a important constraint. Even so the blended output design also brings in certain inefficiencies and significant modifications in the current set up specially in the powertrain and remaining assembly traces.

The remaining decision that an OEM helps make will ultimately hinge on its xEV method and the investments wanted. It is, having said that, essential to carefully evaluate the execs and downsides linked to equally the alternatives ahead of determining to commit to 1 of them.

Strategic Choice one-Devoted (modular) xEV line: This selection satisfies the OEMs who have a foreseeable future focus on EVs as aspect of their item techniques. As for each estimates, the threshold quantity for determining to devote in a dedicated xEV set up is 50-100K vehicles/annum. Even so, this will also count on the projected quantity progress for EV output. If the volumes are rather flat and hovering close to 50K/annum for the next handful of yrs, it is prudent to produce on an ICE line with some modifications and upgradations to adjust to EV output. Our estimates recommend that placing up a new dedicated line for EV will have to have investments to the tune of USD two billion to two.5 billion.

A different sub-selection which can be considered is the micro factories, as opposed to the “giga-factories” like that of Tesla, propagated by a British isles- based EV startup called Arrival. The concept harps on a dispersed output community, with small, very low-price tag micro factories scaled to offer either one,000 buses or 10,000 delivery vans each year to clients nearby. Contrary to the regular car-assembly crops with substantial upfront prices and time, the micro factories price tag appreciably less (~ USD 50 million) and can be ready to commence output in a handful of months.

The concept delivers a large amount of promise for firms that are not pretty dedicated to the EV bandwagon and would like to abide by a “Wait and watch” method. Even so, the criticism about the concept lies close to its incapacity to generate work on a significant scale (~ two hundred work for each two hundred,000 sq feet) and for this reason hitting roadblocks in phrases of policy incentives across international locations. Also, with the new offer chain disruptions, the complexity of fulfillment of and from these micro factories to the desire factors continues to be a main position to consider.

Strategic Choice two-Combined output: In phrases of the modifications expected to adjust the current ICE line to produce EVs, main investment decision locations are the battery and the electric motor place. The traces and gear made use of are the exact same with further stations generally for battery and traction device assembly and dropping in the remaining assembly line. For the powertrain assembly store, significant volume of improve will be wanted as most of the current gear will not be suited for electric motor output and new gear e.g. for ability electronics assembly will be wanted. There is also a need for re-skilling and schooling for dealing with new manufacturing procedures like winding.

For the battery, the incumbent powertrain workforce can not be directly shifted to battery manufacturing and would need significant re-skilling to manage High Voltage factors. When output is completed on the exact same line (blended output), there will be variations in assembly time as ICE vehicles have to have the exact same assembly time, having said that for EV, non-matching areas are taken out of the line and pre-assembled foremost to the variations. Inefficiencies also arise owing to confined knowledge of operators in assembly line with regards to wonderful-tuning functions in paint and system stores. As a consequence, there are far more probabilities of flaws in items at the commence of blended output in the course of manufacturing and also in the course of procurement as suppliers may possibly acquire time to provide crops with the expected excellent of materials.

Resource: NRI Consulting & Answers


With the at any time-evolving external environment on account on modifying shopper requirements, evolving technologies and powertrain alternatives, the manufacturing method and selection generating is certain to grow to be very advanced. It, consequently, is critical to perform a comprehensive evaluation of one’s manufacturing method keeping in mind the output quantity, item method and investment decision things to consider as nicely as the situations that may possibly engage in out for every single of these components.

Disclaimer: Ashim Sharma is Spouse and Team Head at NRI Consulting & Answers India. Aashutosh Sinha, Senior Supervisor, and Kalyani Additional Senior Specialist, contributed to the review. Views are particular.