Many major news websites – both in 3D printing and beyond – recently reported the story of the LSEV electric vehicle produced by an Italian company called XEV. We were finally able to independently confirm the story with Polymaker, which is originally based on early reports and images published on Chinese 3D printing news websites such as 3Dayin.net and ChinaDaily.com. The latter reported that “the startup electric vehicle company is exhibiting its first 3D printed LSEV at Shanghai’s China 3D-printing Cultural Museum, a month ahead of its show in Auto China 2018 in Beijing, according to Guo Xiaozheng, a senior designer from XEV”.
The news is fairly big. A small Italian company called XEV and based in Turin, where FIAT (FCA) and lots of car parts suppliers are also based, 3D printed a small size EV. According to the reports XEV already sold 7,000 of them in preorders to two companies: the Italian postal service – Poste Italiane – and Arval, a car sharing service owned by BNP Paribas. The car was created by an Italian-Chinese team, and produced with support from Polymaker, which provided the 3D printing materials.
XEV Ltd (but the correct name is XEV SrL) does exist as a firm registered in the Italian Companies Registrar office and is traceable to an address in Turin. The company, however, has no website, no LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter account and no other proof of existence that we could find. Thus, in order to verify the story, we reached out to Polymaker that confirmed the project is real and will be presented at more events in China and Europe this year.
Update: while the news was confirmed by Polymaker (details below), mass production for the LSEV may still be a few months or even years away.
Update: Arval, the car-sharing service that reportedly ordered 2,000 vehicles reported that, while an MOU was signed with XEV, its expired in 2017 without coming to fruition. At this time there is no deal with XEV – a PR representative from the company told us – but that does not mean we may not have more news in this regard in the future.”
Update: a new video has surfaced published by Arabs Auto (below). Additional new details emerged as designer Arturo Tedeschi and his A>T studio revealed they were involved in the car’s design. “…designing a car is probably a childhood dream for all people dedicating their life in creating objects. We, as A>T (Arturo Tedeschi, Maurizio A. Degni, Cristian Li Voi) gave a little contribution to this project, but it’s a giant leap for making that dream come true,” Tedeschi said on Facebook. We contacted Tedeschi for additional details but he declined to provide them at this time due to “highly restrictive NDA.”
Update: new – unconfirmed – reports indicate that the company behind XEV is Turin Italy-based JAC Italy , an automotive design studio. The company reportedly worked with a team of engineers developing a large format 3D printing technology to produce the vehicle using a mix of filament extrusion and laser sintering processes.
The Italy-based electric car company XEV and 3D printing material company Polymaker organized the joint press conference at the China 3D-Printing Cultural Museum in Shanghai. The first mass-producible 3D-printed electric car in the world was launched and shown to the public. “Although this new vehicle attracts much attention, this conference is not just about launching and exhibiting the car, it is more about how 3D printing technology brings revolutionary changes to the automotive manufacturing industry. This car, named LSEV, could be the milestone product in the adoption of 3D printing into mainstream production.
“XEV is the first real mass production project using 3D printing. By saying real, I mean there are also lots of other companies using 3D printing for production. But nothing can really compare with XEV in terms of the size, the scale, and the intensity.” Said, Dr. Luo Xiaofan, the co-founder and CEO of Polymaker.
XEV CEO, Stanley, said that “after the research and investigation of the global auto market, they decided to design a small electric vehicle that can achieve C2M (Customer-to-Manufacturer) manufacturing which is stated as a main goal of the Industry 4.0 strategy.” To fulfill this target, it requires mass customization production, fast and cost-effective R&D, and the ability to produce lighter-weight parts that could lead to greater fuel efficiency.
“And then, 3D printing technology becomes the only way to realize it”,
Stanley, XEV CEO
“Without Polymaker, we couldn’t make this happen. Stanley went on. “We really like our interactions with Polymaker, this can be called as know-how combination. Without this kind of interaction, we also couldn’t find the solution we have today. So, we really appreciate what Polymaker do and create for us, we are like brothers, not just strategic partners.” said, Stanley.
Polymaker developed dozens of kinds of engineering plastics for XEV to meet their needs of practical applications. As a result, 3 crucial achievements have been accomplished. XEV has decreased the plastic parts and number of components in a car from more than 2,000 to 57, and the finished LSEV weighs only 450 kilograms, much lower than similar-sized vehicles usually weighing between 1 and 1.2 metric tons. Apart from the chassis, seats and glass, all the visible parts of the car are made by Polymaker materials through 3D printing. This switch of production leads to more than 70 percent reduction of the investment cost in comparison with a traditional production system. Conventionally the R&D process of a car model takes about 3-5 years, but it only takes XEV 3-12 months to finish a new design.
Polymaker has also come up with solutions to help with surface treatments and color. These solutions are enormously helpful in customized production and 3D printing volume production. XEV has confirmed that is has already received 7,000 orders from Europe even before mass production commences. 5,000 orders come from Poste Italiane. And the other 2,000 orders come from ARVAL, a vehicle leasing company fully owned by BNP Paribas. XEV plans to start production in the second quarter of 2019.
*This story was updated on March 16th at 11.52 am (CET) to add confirmation from Polymaker and official statements from Polymaker and XEV.