Tesla has seen one of its critical suppliers for its gigacasting technology, TEI, be acquired by General Motors.
Tesla has been pioneering the use of bigger cast parts in its vehicle bodies over the last few years.
It started by replacing 70 rear body parts with two giant ones in Model 3, and since then, it has progressed into producing Model Y bodies with just a few parts produced by giant casting machines.
After being skeptical at first, the rest of the industry has started to follow with similar efforts.
Now we learn that GM is also dipping its toes in the space, and it is directly affecting Tesla by doing so.
Reuters reports that GM has acquired a Tesla supplier in the space:
For years, a little-known company called Tooling & Equipment International (TEI) has helped Tesla push back the frontiers of “gigacasting”, the process it pioneered to cast large body parts for cars in one piece to save time and money.
Until 2023, that is. TEI is now part of General Motors after agreeing a deal that may have flown under the radar but is a key part of the U.S. automaker’s strategy to make up ground on Tesla, four people familiar with the transaction said.
More specifically, TEI is a specialist in sand casting techniques, which Tesla uses to create its molds for gigacasting.
The news of the acquisition comes just after it was reported that Tesla had achieved a “breakthrough” using “industrial sand with 3D printers” to create even bigger cast parts that could eventually result in entire vehicle bodies being produced in a single part.
GM confirmed the acquisition of TEI:
General Motors acquired Tooling & Equipment International (TEI) to bolster its portfolio of innovations and secure access to unique casting technology.
With new vehicle programs like the Celestiq, the automaker is expected to make use of bigger casting technology.
Tesla and TEI didn’t comment on the report, but Tesla is now believed to be looking for a new partner for sand casting techniques.
The latest casting technology is believed to be critical to Tesla’s next-generation vehicles based on its new “unboxed” manufacturing process.
While it appears the acquisition of the partner by GM is a setback, it’s unclear if it will actually affect the timeline for Tesla’s new vehicle programs.
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