Car manufacturing has come a long way since the early days with Henry Ford laying the foundation for assembly lines and supply chain management. However, vehicle design and the materials used today have become far more intricate and as technology develops and industry demand changes.
Not all car manufacturing plants operate in the same way but the process does involve similar steps from concept and design to production and launch. This can take anywhere from two to five years as the manufacturer must make sure the car is in excellent condition for public use.
What Does The Car Manufacturing Process Involve?
Car manufacturing starts with sheets of metal as building cars often involve recycled materials. It’s worth noting that artisans build classic cars by hand but most of today’s cars are made by robots on an assembly line.
Obtaining And Reworking Raw Materials
Car manufacturers need raw materials to transform the car from concept into reality. With climate change a big talking point, many companies are looking for more sustainable, lightweight and cost-effective materials to keep up with the demand for ‘greener’ products.
Design, Engineering And Car Manufacturing
Carmakers have a tough job as the design must meet the public’s needs and desires where the process often involves many revisions to find the perfect fit. The interior and exterior must also be attractive and functional to potential buyers while including innovative technologies that make the car newsworthy and competitive.
Smaller-scale models of the car are made in 2D and 3D to help engineers test the car’s design. This includes aerodynamics, safety, hot and cold weather, fuel economy, electrical functionality and cost analysis among others. The car manufacturing process can only begin once the design and engineering specifications have been checked, tested and approved.
Even though each car manufacturer follows its own process, there are some set standards when it comes to making a car. Read all about the car manufacturing process in this simple step-by-step guide.
Stamping Or Press Shop
Production starts at the stamping plant or press shop. Here, it supplies the necessary steel parts with stamping dies to form specific parts. Robots in the assembly line create and stamp sheet metal parts for the bodywork, including doors, roof and side frames which they later add to the mainframe of the car.
Welding Or Body Shop
The next stop on the assembly line is the body shop where individual pressed steel parts are put in place and on the desired single-body structure. This second step in the car manufacturing process also involves joining the sheet metal and aluminium parts to create the final form.
Paint Shop As Part Of The Assembly Line
At the third step in the car manufacturing process, the body shop sends the entire frame to the paint shop where they add a coating to protect against corrosion. This is done in a dust-free environment to ensure only the best results. After applying a coat of paint, the car body undergoes a paint inspection system to rule out any irregularities.
Engine Fitment and Assembly
The engine/powertrain assembly line is the heart of the car manufacturing process as this is where all the testing takes place. It involves multiple aspects, such as the performance of each engine cylinder. It’s on this assembly line where they attach various parts to the painted body shell, including the engine, chassis, and tyres. The last part of the assembly process involves mounting certain mechanical elements from the driving position and mirrors to the interior trim of the vehicle.
Final Inspection and Testing
When all of the stages of production have been completed, the fully-assembled car is then thoroughly inspected to ensure there are no defects before sending it to car dealerships. This process also involves checking for any imperfections or inconsistencies with the exterior or interior. Some of the checks include the following:
- the engine is started and stopped several times
- steering alignment is adjusted
- headlights are checked for brightness and reach
- brakes are tested for safety
- heavy water pressure tests to find leaks
- the car’s programming
- electrical units will be checked to ensure safety and accessibility
Finally, they perform crash tests to observe how the car handles certain impact and to see how the airbags and seatbelts fare. If the car passes all tests and requires no further changes, the company can now present it to the market, develop a marketing strategy and define the best price.