At Elio Motors, we believe that American manufacturing is due for a comeback. Not only do we believe that the time has come, we plan on being a part of the resurgence. We plan on creating upwards of 1,500 jobs at our manufacturing plant in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, which we call Elio Caddo Operations (ECO.) In last week’s Momentum, we introduced a series that will provide a closer look at our plant and its capabilities. We began with a general overview and today we will take an in-depth look at the ECO body shop.
As we mentioned last week, our plant is made up of two separate buildings that will work in unison to produce the Elio: Building A and Building B. Building B, which spans 470,000 square feet, is where the manufacture of the vehicles will begin. The body frame, body panels, and paint processes will all take place in Building B. It is here that the foundation of the vehicle is put together and where the standard for overall quality of the vehicle is set.
Before we take a look at the process flow that will take place in Building B, there are several manufacturing terms to get familiar with.
Subassembly- a group of separate parts that are put together to act as a single part in the manufacturing process.
Body Side Aperture- the side of the body with the structural components and body panels combined. Also known as a quarter panel.
Chassis Cradle- the part used to hold the front chassis under the vehicle.
B-Pillar – the vertical part of the body side aperture that typically starts behind the driver’s seat. It is also the pillar to which the door will latch.
Body in white- this term describes the body framing of the vehicle as put together before painting.
The process of building the Elio starts in Building B in what we would classify as a traditional manufacturing process. First, the underbody parts and subassemblies will be set in jigs/fixtures and welded (spot welding) to create the underbody. The welding will be predominantly done by existing robots in the plant – building B will have over 200 welding robots alone.
From there, the underbody is sent along our automated conveyor to attach to the body side apertures. These apertures are set into place at the framing station from the A-pillar to the rear of the body. At this point, the vehicle will begin to the resemble the final product.
Next, the roof is added and then finally the “closure panels” are attached: the hood, door, fenders and deck (trunk) lid. This marks the end of the body in white segment of the vehicle build. This is a simplified outline of the process which includes over 240 total parts put together to make the foundation of the Elio.
This is the first step along the manufacturing journey of the Elio. Our goal is to continue to update, educate, and share the details of this incredibly complex project and ultimately, put a fun, inexpensive, safe and American made vehicle in your driveway. At that point, you will know the Elio inside and out.