Comau automates NIO EV drive production

  • October 16, 2023
  • William Payne

Italian Stellantis subsidiary Comau has developed a manufacturing automation system to allow Chinese EV maker NIO to mass produce its future electric drive systems. Comau’s manufacturing automation project is designed to provide NIO with co-line production for the EV manufacturer’s third-gen induction and permanent magnet motors, both of which are integral parts of its proprietary electric drive systems (EDS).

The solution includes primary lines such as e-motor assembly lines, gearbox manufacturing and inverter assembly lines, as well as EOL (End of Line) testing processes. It is designed to support a large-scale annual production capacity of 1 million units, to be used within NIO’s electric sedans, coupes and SUVs, as well as select models of its sub-brand ALPS.

Comau’s automation solution is designed to allow the customer to adjust the production environment to accommodate different process parameters as needed for new products.

To further increase production line flexibility and enable co-line production of the two electric drive systems, Comau has collaboratively developed a new adapter with zero-point positioner together with NIO’s e-drive team. This effectively unifies design, process, and control standards, allowing different assembly requirements to be met while maintaining flexibility.

Comau’s manufacturing environment also features 3D vision-guided robots, AGVs for autonomous material supply, and automatic tool-end loading, which have helped significantly enhance the customer’s production efficiency. Widespread use of quadnocular stereovision 3D cameras has allowed Comau to overcome the limitations of vision guidance technology in terms of field of view and gripping range, granting automatic part positioning and assembly in addition to excellent repeatability.

“When it comes to implementing cutting-edge technological solutions, experience and know-how play a decisive role in success. We have been deeply impressed by Comau’s extensive expertise in electric drive systems assembly throughout our partnership. The innovative solution has reliably supported the project, helping us overcome various challenges and achieve our desired results,” said Alan Zeng, Senior Vice President of NIO and CEO of XPT. “Our collaboration follows a simultaneous engineering approach, which promotes close cooperation between both parties and drives project progress efficiently. This approach not only ensures progress and cost control but also guarantees the quality, performance and reliability of the final product.”

“Considering the rapid growth of new energy vehicles in China, a market in which production rates and sales volumes in the first half of 2023 have increased by 42.4% and 44.1% respectively, the demand for electric drive systems has increased significantly,” said Jeff Yuan, Comau Head of Countries Cluster APAC. “Our joint effort with NIO to create a highly automated production environment has allowed the customer to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and improve the performance of its next-generation EDS technology.”