How Long Does It Take to Build a Car These Days?

Rivian truck exterior and interior in front of JVIS

A few years back, the JVIS team published a blog article looking at the process and time required by automakers to manufacture a vehicle. Since the piece received a lot of attention, we decided to check in with one of our resident experts Jamie Ecker, Director of Program Management at JVIS, for an update on the car-building process to see what’s changed in the past few years as technological advancements and the rapid rise of electric vehicles and sustainability efforts continue to transform the automotive industry.

‘Time Is Relative’ 

Many auto industry workers and experts likely know how long it takes to build a car, but even for them the process holds a sense of magic – going from an idea to a real-life, flawless, high-tech machine. There are countless steps and variables that can improve or hamper the speed at which a car is developed. 

If you have you ever wondered about the duration and work that actually goes into building a car and making that magic happen, you might want to look to Albert Einstein. In his Special Theory of Relativity, Einstein determined that time is relative – or the rate at which time passes depends on your frame of reference. 

It’s a theory that can be helpful in understand the complexities involved in clocking the time it takes to build a vehicle.  

“It really depends on the process – there are thousands or processes that go into making a single part,” Ecker said. “There are also a lot more challenges today, from supply chain issues and consumer demand to the rise of EVs not to mention the added safety requirements and regulations.”  

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. 

While electric vehicles have fewer parts than traditional cars, Ecker said the impact on the build time has been minor.  

“The overall assembly from the time that they start producing rolling chassis frame to the time they get a vehicle out the door, hasn’t really changed much over the years,” said Ecker. “The wild card is the development time in certain areas of the vehicle, like the battery pack in an EV that has thousands of parts in itself.” 

From Concept to Consumer 

Design and engineering come first, before any part can come off the press.  

According to DirectIndustry e-Magazine, cars in the past would take four to five years to go from the design stage (just the development of the vehicle’s look and basic aerodynamics) to production, but that time is being cut in half thanks to the rapid integration of digital technology throughout the entire process of building a car – from research and development to production.

The adoption of Industry 4.0 (the trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies) and IoT (Internet of Things) in the auto industry has been led in large part by EV companies and their efforts to scale up production and reduce costs. To make that happen, Ecker says customers look to suppliers for support with parts of the build process, as well as high-end technology engineering. 

“With the migration to electric vehicles, many EV companies want to get their latest model to the market as quickly as possible to stay competitive, so they really depend on companies like JVIS,” Ecker said. “We have processes in place and the latest equipment to help companies streamline the validation process through 3-D printed parts or cut the tool build time in half with the technology in our tool shops.” 

Zooming In on a Single Part 

JVIS is a supplier of automotive products for leading global brands, and we continue to be on the forefront of advanced technologies and innovations – 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 30 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. While it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how much physical work and time it takes to make a new car, Ecker said JVIS is dedicated to helping automakers improving the cars of today and tomorrow as well as the driver experience.  

“There’s always constant innovation happening and new technologies emerging that allows us to stay ahead of the game,” Ecker said. 

Are you looking for a partner to help bring your product from concept to consumer? Start a conversation with us at jvis.us/contact-us.