Joining the movement is Amazon, which plans to offer online sales of Hyundai E.V.s and other cars starting next year. While it remains uncertain whether flat-packed cars will be part of this vision, their environmental benefits make them a promising alternative to traditional SUVs.
The influence of flat-pack assembly is not limited to the automotive industry. The high-rise construction sector has embraced design for manufacturing and assembly (DfMA) principles, enabling efficient building construction and reducing the number of parts and non-standard components.
The BBC says that Chinese electric car maker BYD has pipped Tesla at the post for quarterly production of E.V.s. While flat-packs aren’t part of its ‘Build Your Dreams’ model, they could be part of its strategy to get its vehicles rolling on roads across the globe.
The Evolution of Flat-Pack Vehicles
One commercially successful example was the Peel P50, produced from 1962 to 1965. This single-seater car could be folded up and stored in the back of a small van. The Renault Twizy and CityCom also joined the flat-pack car trend, offering two-seater electric options that could be assembled in a few hours.
Australia entered the flat-pack vehicles market by sourcing parts from China and Taiwan. ACE EV started building E.V.s like pick-up trucks and hatchbacks using glued-together carbon fibre shells. Even the mining sector has embraced the concept, as a West Australian mine has been testing flat-pack iron ore cars sourced from China.
The question is how well these cost, productivity, and labour-saving measures will translate to the U.S. automotive sector. The potential for affordable flat-pack E.V.s to accelerate the transition to cleaner transport and net zero emissions is exciting. However, to make this a reality, we need trained workers and a spot-on training program that opens doors for apprentices across the country.
Discover the latest innovation in car assembly with Luvly’s flat-pack micro-electric vehicle. This Swedish start-up has created a patent for a light vehicle flat-pack framework and plans to sell it to car manufacturers worldwide. With the rise of urban living, micro EVs could become the new norm. Imagine assembling your own electric vehicle like building furniture from IKEA.
Luvly intends to license its patent for a light vehicle flat-pack framework, allowing other car manufacturers to create their own branded versions. With the expectation that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, micro EVs and flat-packs may become the new standard. The Motocompacto, for example, transforms from what appears to be a compact table into a functional bike. However, its range is limited to just 12 miles. These electric vehicles are more environmentally-friendly than SUVs, and even Amazon is jumping on board by offering online sales of Hyundai EVs and other cars in the near future.
What does the rise of flat-pack EVs mean for the automotive sector? Will individuals have the opportunity to assemble their own cars, or will there be a new occupation focused on building these vehicles? Perhaps it will be a combination of both.
Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD has outpaced Tesla in quarterly production of EVs, indicating their potential global market reach. While flat-packs may not be part of BYD’s current strategy, they could be in the future. When it comes to EVs, there is a need for a range of skills and competencies to ensure safety and roadworthiness.
Flat-pack vehicles aren’t new. They’ve been around for decades.
There was the Cyclops built in the UK in 1956. A two-seater that could be assembled in a few hours, but never went into production. And while the East German car, the Trabant, wasn’t a flat-pack car, you could disassemble and reassemble it for transportation.
Another UK car, the Peel P50, was commercially successful. Produced from 1962 to 1965, this single-seater car could be folded up and stashed in the back of a small van. Renault’s electric Twizy, introduced in 2012 and still being produced, has two seats and can be assembled in a few hours. Another two-seater electric car, the CityCom hit the roads in 2015.
There are also flat-pack trucks, such as the OX, which offer cost-effective transportation options. ACE EV, a startup in Queensland, Australia, has been assembling EVs using flat-packed parts from China and Taiwan. Even the mining sector is exploring the use of flat-pack vehicles for iron ore transportation
The Potential of Flat-Pack Technology
The concept of ‘flat-pack’ extends far beyond the automotive sector. In fact, it has already made waves in the high-rise construction industry with the introduction of Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA). Prefabricated buildings, modular construction, and even plumbing bathroom ‘pods’ have revolutionized high-rise residential buildings. Although DfMA was developed in the late 1970s, it took the industry another two decades to fully embrace its benefits.
Research indicates that DfMA principles are perfectly suited to the idea of flat-packed cars. These principles include minimizing the number of parts, reducing cabling complexities, avoiding non-standard products and components, establishing clear processes for part handling, ensuring easy assembly, and striving for consistency in fasteners, ideally leading to self-locating or self-fastening parts that require minimal post-assembly adjustments.
The statistics on installing bathroom pods are highly promising. Research shows that plumbing labor savings can reach up to two-thirds compared to on-site assembly. Furthermore, plumbing installation time is almost halved, eliminating the need for a tower crane. These advancements bring about various additional benefits, including enhanced safety, improved quality assurance, smaller work teams, reduced waste, and less on-site storage requirements.
Now, the question arises: to what extent can these cost, productivity, and labor savings be applied to flat-pack electric vehicles within the U.S. automotive sector? Perhaps these affordable versions of EVs will serve as a catalyst for a swift transition towards cleaner transportation.
With flat-pack EVs, the journey towards sustainable mobility begins.