Nio Automates Electric Drive System Production

Jan. 1, 2024
Comau developed a flexible automation system for the electric vehicle manufacturer’s production of induction and permanent magnet motors.

Comau, a Stellantis company that supplies advanced automation systems, has implemented a high-performance turnkey system to automate manufacturing of Nio’s next-generation electric drive systems. Nio is a Chinese multinational automobile manufacturer that specializes in electric vehicles (EVs).

This automation project was developed to ensure fast and reliable co-line production of Nio’s third-gen induction and permanent magnet motors, both of which are integral to its proprietary electric drive systems (EDS). The Comau system includes primary lines such as e-motor assembly lines, gearbox manufacturing and inverter assembly lines, as well as end-of-line testing processes. It is designed to support Nio’s annual production capacity of 1 million units to be used within the company’s electric sedans, coupes and SUVs, as well as select models of its Alps sub-brand of more affordable EVs. 

Comau’s highly automated manufacturing environment for this project features 3D vision-guided robots, AGVs for autonomous material supply and automatic tool-end loading, which have helped significantly enhance Nio’s production efficiency. The system’s use of quadnocular stereovision 3D cameras enabled Comau to overcome the limitations of vision guidance technology related to field of view and gripping range, allowing for automatic part positioning and assembly as well as repeatability. 

To enable co-line production of the two electric drive systems for this project, Comau collaboratively developed a new adapter with zero-point positioner together with Nio’s e-drive team. According to the companies, this accessory unifies design, process and control standards, allowing different assembly requirements to be met while maintaining maximum flexibility. 

“Considering the rapid growth of new energy vehicles in China, a market in which production rates and sales volumes in the first half of 2023 have increased by 42.4% and 44.1%, respectively (source: China Association of Automotive Manufacturers), the demand for electric drive systems has increased significantly,” said Jeff Yuan, Comau’s head of countries cluster APAC. “Our joint effort with Nio to create a highly automated production environment has allowed the customer to enhance efficiency, reduce costs and improve the performance of its next-generation EDS technology.”