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How Long Does It Take to Build a Car? This Is the Fastest Way.

Mathias Funder

In the following article, new entrants wondering about "how long does it take to build a car" will get some answers. If you are looking for efficient ways to develop your car without compromising on quality or spending too much time and money you will find a few basics on how long it takes to build a car and how to gain the fastest vehicle development and production.

> How long does it take to build a car? Team up with experienced manufacturers to be faster!
> Don't prioritize an early launch over a well-planned launch!
> How long does it take to build a car? Speed the process up by sharing capacities!
> Consider a shared platform
> Implement multiple vehicles in your planning
> What's next?

It goes without saying that building a car from scratch is a complex, time-consuming, and cost-intensive undertaking. There are numerous factors to be considered well in advance of the vehicle's successful market entry, including the used components, the production site, engineering and manufacturing teams, and of course, the most efficient ways of implementation. If you are asking yourself the question:

"How long does it take to build a car?",

a lot of things have to be consided .

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How Long Does It Take to Build a Car?
Team up With Experienced Manufacturers to be faster!

Contract manufacturers support new entrants on the vehicle market by providing them with technical know-how and manufacturing facilities – all, so they can bring their vision to the road on the fastest way. In addition, engineering service providers lend their development capacities as support.

Both facilitate connections to suppliers (and sometimes investors) and thus help new entrants to establish themselves in the electric market. However, only a few can serve as a true one-stop shop, providing both engineering and manufacturing assets.

The biggest cost factor in automotive production is the production facility itself – particularly the construction and commissioning of a high-performance paint shop. The costs for system development suppliers providing engine, steering, and brakes as well as increasingly complex electronic systems (EE systems and components) should not be underestimated either.

Lastly, a new entrant needs to provide:

  • a core development and project steering team, which will stand at the center of the complete vehicle concept
  • development
  • and production process, which, of course, also requires financial resources to establish and maintain.

With several other factors (e.g. the creation of suitable sales and after-sales networks) further increasing the new entrant's financial burden, cooperating with an engineering service provider greatly reduces the overall cost and time requirements of manufacturing and developing a vehicle.

Don't Prioritize an Early Launch over a Well-planned Launch!

Automakers are keen on getting their vehicle on the road as soon as possible. Some even want it on the market before anyone else. However, by persistently focusing on minimizing time-to-market in order to boost sales as soon as possible, the time required for certain processes of the project to fully get into motion may be missing.

For example, although an after-sales network is not actively in use before the product launch, establishing such a network still requires preparation time that has to be planned before launch. Thus, it's important to know which tasks are necessary for ensuring the project's success, where the schedule can be optimized, and which processes should be executed as specified.

Learn more about "10 Milestones for Taking Your Car from Vision to Reality"


How Long Does It Take To Develop A Car?
Speed Up the Process by Sharing Capacities!

Assuming a completely new development and a new plant are needed, it will take several years and at least ten-digit amount of money to bring a new vehicle to the market from scratch. On top of that, a large part of the costs is already incurred after about 1.5 years, but the return (i.e., the cash flow from vehicle sales) only comes into play after the start of production.

And while there's ample reason to construct completely new production facilities, the short-term costs far outweigh the long-term benefits of such a decision; for new entrants in particular. Increasing costs at the earliest stage will heighten the risk of failure before the long-term benefits are even relevant.

Sharing capacities and resorting to an established partner who can provide facilities, teams, and experience alike (as well as an established network of suppliers and manufacturers) considerably reduces time and the financial burden during this critical preparation time. By dramatically reducing the largest cost factors in vehicle development, sharing capacities will not only speed up the process itself by several months, but also allows for a notably faster evening out of the net losses.

How Long Does It Take to Build a Car?
Consider a Shared Platform to be faster!

The vehicle platform is the structual basis of a vehicle and usually includes the rolling chassis, engine, and - for electric vehicles - battery as well as the high-voltage architecture and large parts of the low-voltage architecture of a vehicle.

While licensing an existing platform poses certain limitations in terms of technical freedom, this usually comes with a considerable decrease in time-to-market and development cost. These platforms have been developed by experienced specialists and tested and industrialized on many vehicle derivatives over the years.

Licensing a platform avoids the high non-recurring costs that occur when designing platforms from scratch within a limited timeframe and with a lack of previous experience. Depending of the exact license specifications, a platform can also be customized further in order to match the licensee's automotive visions.

Because a platform license largely covers all invisible parts of a vehicle, the customization of brand specific parts (e.g., outer panels, HMI, interior trim) is quite common.

Using a shared platform allows a notable reduction on the development time required on components that have already proven to be efficient for other vehicle brands. A shared platform is also already connected to an established supplier network – a benefit which also carries over to the development of subsequent vehicles.

How Long Does It Take To Develop a Car?
Implement Multiple Vehicles in Your Planning

Developing multiple vehicles on the same platform is usually considerably less time- and cost-demanding, as many elements of the previous vehicle development can be reused. Because a vehicle platform is generally considered contemporary for several years, it can serve as basis for further derivatives of the initially-developed vehicle.

Thus, it makes sense to consider the development of multiple vehicle variants very early in the project phase. It‘s commonplace for vehicle developers to plan multiple variants of a vehicle with the same platform in use, and particularly for new entrants, this strategy benefits their successful market entry by utilizing the available resources in an efficient manner.

So You Have An Idea About How Long it Takes To Build a Car? What's Next?

How long does it take to build a car? And how long does it take to develop a vehicle? All these approaches have their merits in helping you achieve your automotive vision while also reducing the amount of time and resources needed.

Nonetheless, there are still multiple tasks a new entrant must manage themselves:

  • laying out a clear idea of the product and the market it’s supposed to perform in
  • securing investors
  • a supply chain 
  • after-sales management
  • marketing staff
  • and of course their own core team.

But by implementing smart decisions and focusing on which tasks can be relayed efficiently, development time and costs of a vehicle can be reduced considerably.

The success of vehicle development also depends on several external factors. From the target market, investors, and production partners up to the entities within the future supply chain, realizing an automotive vision can only happen within a suitable ecosystem. That is the topic of the upcoming article.

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Learn more about "10 Milestones for Taking Your Car from Vision to Reality"

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Mathias Funder

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