Robots and Battery Powered Vehicles

Robots and Battery Powered Vehicles

The visit to the BMW plant confirmed three factors concerning battery-powered vehicles (BEVs). See, Manufacturing a Car is Easy

  • There is no fundamental reason why GM and other traditional automobile manufacturers can’t produce BEVs as inexpensively as Tesla or any other new entrant.

The rationale for this conclusion is that the bodies are manufactured separately and then married to the chassis that is also manufactured separately. 

The chassis, as a distinct entity, can be built around an ICE or a battery pack, and the body matching the chassis can be built intermixed with other bodies, just as different body models are being built in the BMW factory.

GM and the other traditional manufacturers have a wealth of experience designing and manufacturing the body for cars and can use their expertise to build the body separately from the chassis.

It’s only the chassis that truly differentiates a BEV from an ICE vehicle. While the body for a BEV can contain the features needed for a BEV, it can be built together with the bodies for other models.

GM Bolt. Photo by D. Dears
  • Tesla, once the bugs have been worked out of its manufacturing system, will be able to build BEVs at the innate capacity of its Fremont plant. 

Tesla originally claimed it could build 500,000 BEVs annually, which would, if accurate, place its capacity at around the same as the BMW, Regensburg factory.

Attempting to increase capacity by adding tent facilities will merely increase costs and be a drain on cash.

Given time to work out the bugs in its manufacturing system, Tesla should be able to meet its objective of manufacturing around 500,000 BEVs annually … if its original claim was accurate.

  • The future of BEVs depends on the cost of batteries and/or government mandates, not the factory of the future with the use of robots.

While this may be seen as trite, it is an unavoidable fact.

The BMW Regensburg factory demonstrates that Tesla has no monopoly on the use of robots.

GM says that the battery in the Bolt costs $200 per kWh, and that the 60 kWh battery in the Bolt has a range of 238 miles. Even with a cost of $150 per kWh, but with a range of 300 miles, which is still less than the 400 mile range of an ICE vehicle, the battery will still cost over $11,300 which is more than an internal combustion engine. (In addition, a larger battery size is required in cold weather climates.)


GM and other traditional automobile manufacturers will be able compete with Tesla, while Tesla should be able to achieve a steady flow of BEVs once it has debugged its manufacturing system.

Tesla has no monopoly on the use of robots, which the BMW Regensburg factory demonstrates.

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