How Long Does It Take Automakers to Build a Car?

Anyone who works in the automotive field knows how long it takes to build a car. But even to experts, a new car can sometimes seem like magic – no flaws, great gadgets, faultless handling. Have you ever wondered how much work it actually takes to build a car and make that magic happen? An average car has about 30,000 parts. Once those parts are manufactured and brought to the final production line, it takes automakers about 18 to 35 hours to produce one mass-market vehicle – from welding to full engine assembly to painting. That’s about 3 to 4 typical shifts, with hundreds of skilled workers backing up different parts of the process.

Making the Concept, Making the Parts

Design and engineering come first, before any part can come off the press. Car and Driver provides a breakdown and general timeline of these early stages. Timelines depend on how new a design is – or how much invention and development engineering will be required. The concept design stage (just the development of the vehicle’s look and basic aerodynamics) can take two years or longer. Engineering and continuous development are requirements for staying at the top of the industry, so it’s not easy to measure the time spent on these efforts.

To build a new car, auto companies need to get all parts made and in one location. If the vehicle is mass produced, volume automakers outsource many of the parts from suppliers, as long as those parts are not being protected as top-secret intellectual property. Vendors include machine shops that do the tooling, mass-production and specialty parts suppliers, technology companies, distribution facilities and so on. Auto companies have vastly differing opinions on how much work is okay to outsource: Some prefer to maintain direct control over all assembly, tech development and so on. Others look to OEMs, suppliers and other outside innovators for parts of the build process, as well as for high-end technology engineering, and the automaker focuses on brand-defining efforts like quality testing, design and marketing.

Zooming In on a Single Part

JVIS is a supplier of automotive products for leading global brands. Naturally, it takes us far longer to conceptualize and design our exterior and interior solutions than it does for us to actually produce the products for OEMs and automakers. We’re on the forefront of lighting technology and other innovations like ultra-personalized acoustic systems, and we want to get it just right. For a product like our integrated center stacks, the actual production process takes only about 60 seconds. During that time there are about thirty people directly laboring on parallel processes: injection molding, painting, chrome plating, two-shot molding, laser etching, PCB (Printed Circuit Board) manufacturing, assembly and so on. The end result is a sleek, user-friendly center stack with integrated controls for driving comfort and enjoyment.

Like each of our products, every part of a vehicle has its own story and takes time, thought and care to engineer and manufacture. It’s impossible to tell, then, exactly how much physical work – down to each key player – it takes to make a new car. It’s even harder to conceptualize how much time is spent on developing new designs and features – the thought work. But there are millions of people spending every day making vehicles better and production more efficient. JVIS is dedicated not only to improving cars but to improving the driver experience in every way we can with our full-service engineering capabilities. We’re proud to put in the time to be a brain behind some of the most exciting automotive products on the market.

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