Inside Xos: Flex Manufacturing
Some people say they live for cars, but unlike most people, I have literally spent my entire life in the automotive industry. My father was in charge of Volkswagen’s body testing group, and unlike other kids who dream about cool cars, I was surrounded by them — I helped my father investigate squeaks and rattles, and in return, he’d take me for rides in the test vehicles they were working on. You might say I was born to be an automotive engineer.
I started my career at Volkswagen where I worked on ICE engine projects, but moved to Karmann, the famous coachbuilder as a Project Manager for the launch of the Volkswagen Cabrio, worked as Head of Production building the Land Rover Defender at Karmann Ghia in Brazil, ran a stamping plant in South Carolina as a CEO and eventually became the Director of Manufacturing for the Tesla Model S. After more than two decades in the industry, I’ve learned a lot about how to make automotive manufacturing work, and even more about what not to do.
That’s why, in my current position as Vice-President of Manufacturing for Xos Trucks, a leader in the next generation of EV commercial trucking, I created what we call Flex Manufacturing. I understood the immense benefits of this new system to help improve speed, efficiency, and quality during the manufacturing process, which would not only enable Xos to lead our industry, but also help our customers do so in their own fields.
At Xos, we’ve intentionally designed the XPlatform and its supply chain to avoid the need for massive stamped presses, robotic welding, and automated paint booths at our manufacturing facilities. Rather, our Flex Manufacturing facilities are focused on final assembly.
We rely on strategically located contract-assembly partners for factories and people, while Xos brings processes, tools, methods, and parts to the table, all while taking full responsibility for product quality. Everything we don’t supply ourselves, we obtain directly from Tier 1 suppliers, making sourcing parts not just easy, but easy for a customer’s technicians to maintain.
In an industry where others sink hundreds of millions, or even billions, of dollars into massive greenfield facilities, we’ve taken the opposite tack — scaling our manufacturing spend to market demand. This saves on capital expenditures and allows us to build out a plant in less than a year. The upshot is that we can be both discerning and nimble about where to locate our plants today, then be well-positioned to enter new geographic locations tomorrow, when advantageous opportunities present themselves.
As a result, Xos shaves years off of ramp-up time getting products to market. While other startups are still in the planning phase, our products are already on the road, powering everything from UPS trucks to Loomis armored cars, allowing us far more leeway to deploy capital to other areas of the organization that drive the business forward, like technology, operations, and infrastructure.
Flex Manufacturing is the perfect balance of quality, efficiency, and affordability, and at Xos, we believe it makes us a strong contender to become the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial EVs. I encourage you to view the latest “Inside Xos” video, featuring members of my team discussing further details.