It has been the year of the car at CES last week as more and more automakers and traditional tech companies mix up mobility and connectivity and autonomous and semi-autonomous cars behind every corner. In return the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit is flooded with electronics in form of 3D printed cars and electrical vehicles. There is another connection between the two events: a moustache which belongs to Dr. Dieter Zetsche, the Chairman of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
3D printed cars showcased in Detroit
3D printing in the automotive industry is a thing: last month SmarTech Markets Publishing forecasted the automotive industry to produce record volumes in 3D printing, worth about $1.1 billion by 2019.
Local Motors , a company which generated headlines already last year when the company 3D printed the first car which actually drove during the 2014 International Manufacturing Show, is printing the main structure of a car right on the 2015 NAIAS floor. The Phoenix based company crowdsources the design of its cars and shows a refreshed version of the 3D printed Strati model. The printing of the car takes 44 hours, plus some additional time to route and polish the final details and to give the car its final look.
Local Motors at the Detroit Auto Show (image: NAIAS)
Local Motors Strati parts (image: Local Motors)
The fully-electric Strati has a 62 mile range, can be charged in 3.5 hours and reaches a top speed of a bout 50 mph (80 km/h).
Local Motors states that its cars can be designed, built and sold in a “micro-factory” which takes up only 3716 square meters of space. The micro-factory program and technology is powered by an open-developer platform called “the forge”.
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is also showcasing a 3D printed car: a Shelby Cobra. Researchers printed a third of the parts used on the vehicle in 24 hours at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. Approximately 500 pounds of the 1400-pound vehicle consist out of printed parts made of 20 percent carbon fiber.
The team took six weeks to design, manufacture and assemble the Shelby, including 24 hours of print time.
ORNL 3D-printed Cobra (image: ORNL)
“You can print out a working vehicle in a matter of days or weeks,” said Lonnie Love, leader of ORNL’s Manufacturing Systems Research group. “You can test it for form, fit and function. Your ability to innovate quickly has radically changed. There’s a whole industry that could be built up around rapid innovation in transportation.”
GM takes on Tesla with the Chevy Bolt
General Motors revealed the Chevrolet Bolt (not to confuse with the Volt, a gas/electric hybrid that made its debut in 2010), an all electric hatchback which has a range of 200 miles on a single charge.
Chevy Bolt (image: Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)
Chevy Bolt interior (image: Chevrolet)
“The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra. “Chevrolet believes electrification is a pillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.”
The EV will start at around $30.000 making it much more affordable than the current Tesla line-up (calling your self a Model S owner will cost you at least $70.000). Drivers of the Bolt will be able to use their smartphones as key to access the car, exit the car and tell it to park itself with automatic park-and-retrieval technology and to use an 10-inch capacitive touch screen to interface features.
GM proofs that the company has understood the key trends of the automotive industry by adding ride-sharing management, including reservations, vehicle location, digital key and even payment processing via the smartphone to the mobile app of the Bolt.
Tesla is working on an more affordable version of its electric vehicles – the upcoming Model 3 is expected to cost around $35.000 and hit a range of approximately 200 miles on a single charge. The company of Elon Musk welcomed GM’s contribution to electric vehicles in a statement.
“Tesla is always supportive of other manufacturers who bring compelling electric vehicles to the market,” the automaker said. “We applaud Chevrolet for introducing the Bolt and are excited to learn more about the product.”
Mercedes with the impressive F015
We would like to bring this up here, because honestly we can’t get enough of the F015 prototype and neither of Dr. Zetsche’s (on the right) moustache. The German carmaker showcases the streamlined F015 with its gigantic glass roof and huge LED panels at the front and back (the car actually looks a bit like the already mentioned moustache…).
The futuristic car features an F-Cell plug-in hybrid drive system which has a total range of 1100 km with a 200 km range running purely on electric power. The autonomous driving car will not go on sales for at least 10 more years.
The Mercedes F015 (image: Mercedes Benz Facebook)
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