Remember the LSEV? The largely 3D printed EV from a mysterious company called XEV? We first reported on this project back in 2018, when some overly hyped-up stories announced the car was ready for mass production. Back then we were at least able to confirm the project was real and real it is. It took a bit longer than the original 2019 timeline for launch, but the car is here, it’s real and it’s already zooming around. In fact, the official launch of the YOYO (the new name of the LSEV) took place in May 2021. XEV’s first fully electric city car can be driven from the age of 16 with a B1 license.
This writer can confirm all this after seeing a YOYO in person on the way to last week’s football game, the Italian Supercup Final, won by FC Inter, in Milan (see photo above). In the beginning, we thought it looked familiar but did not recognize it. Then it came back, although a few things have changed since 2018. The car is now called YOYO and has been presented at EV and car shows over the past couple of years. It is still, however, made with 3D printing. In fact, LFAM (Large Format Additive Manufacturing) is a key element making it possible.
XEV’s 3D printing production line virtually eliminates the need for limited and resource-intensive tooling, resulting in a flexible and efficient manufacturing process. This technology allows for fewer body components, faster technical updates and significantly reduced production cycles. It also dramatically reduces production costs meaning the savings can be passed on to customers, with the result that the YOYO is available for just over €10,000 in Italy (with EV incentives).
Thanks to a pre-designed and standardized chassis, the 3D printed parts can be modified and changed with significantly less re-engineering. For the final surface quality, the 3D printed parts also go through an automated robotic milling process to guarantee a very smooth surface.
Thanks to a tip from Spanish 3D printer reseller Multi3DPrint, we learned that after testing a few different platforms, XEV ended up choosing a BigRep PRO system to carry out the 3D printing on its YOYO EVs. We also learned that 3D printing is used primarily for customization. Thanks to the standardized fixing method between the customized parts and the car body, the 3D printed pieces can be modified and changed with significantly less engineering work.“We are working very closely with some key customers to develop their own customized version of their cars,” said Jiawei Wu, Additive Manufacturing Director at XEV
There are two layers of customization that XEV is focusing on. The first layer is the design surface customization, which can represent individual identity or a corporation’s value. The second layer of customization, coming in future versions, will focus more on the actual body of the car and may have some more significant implications for car manufacturing.
“The BigRep PRO gives us better geometric precision thanks to its reliable machine design. Then its versatility provides us more opportunities to try different materials and processes. With the PRO, it’s much faster for us to develop more customization possibilities and applications,” said Wu. “3D printing provides us a customer-oriented process, and it gives us a lot of chance to trial different geometries. Also inside XEV’s smart manufacturing center, there is a very strong application team including professionals with a good understanding of design and engineering. This team is the key intermedia connection between the customers and our smart manufacturing center.”
XEV selected the BigRep PRO after an extensive search. For XEV, the size of the printer played a huge role as did the versatility of the system and its open material approach. XEV is currently using the PRO for three main applications. First, for small volume test production as they are developing a lot of customized versions of YOYO’s components. Second, XEV does a lot of material testing on BigRep PRO, mainly on fiber-reinforced materials. And third, XEV uses the 3D printer for traditional applications like prototypes, fixtures, and some production tooling.
No charging time with ENI
In addition, XEV signed a deal with ENI, the largest Italian energy company: from 2022, selected Eni service stations will provide their innovative Battery Xchange battery swapping services for XEV YOYO electric cars, which will also be included in the Enjoy car-sharing fleet. Battery swapping means no more long waiting times to recharge electric car batteries, as the YOYO’s batteries can be easily swapped in just a few minutes.
“At XEV we are committed to developing sustainable urban mobility and offering our customers innovative services and excellent experiences. We are delighted that Eni, a leading European company, shares our vision of creating a more sustainable future. Our partnership is a milestone in achieving this goal. At selected Eni service stations, YOYO customers can benefit from our battery Xchange service and get a new fully charged set of batteries installed in just a few minutes. We believe this innovative business model will help our consumers to overcome the difficulties and limitations of charging their electric cars,” said Lou Tik, CEO of XEV.
“With this sustainable mobility partnership, Eni confirms its commitment to the energy transition and the absolute importance attributed to the lever of innovation, as part of a strategy that will enable Eni to achieve the total decarbonization of products and processes by 2050. The partnership with XEV reinforces our leadership in providing clean energy and tangible, efficient and sustainable solutions to consumers. We are the first in Europe to provide the XEV battery swapping service at our service stations, and we will be the first to make their vehicles available to our Enjoy car sharing users, with the aim of expanding our sustainable service and product offer as much as possible,” said Giovanni Maffei, Eni Head of Green & Traditional Refining & Marketing Commercial.
A new era for parts and services
In all honesty, the owners of the YOYO that we met were not overly happy with the car, although they did not specify the reasons. As a new and innovative product from a small company, there are bound to be some issues in the beginning. For this reason, XEV also signed a partnership with the experts at Magneti Marelli Parts & Services (Magneti Marelli is also a Ferrari F1 technical partner, although that does not bode that well lately).
As part of this agreement, the mechanics of the certified workshops of the Magneti Marelli Checkstar Network will make available to XEV customers their knowledge and skills, as well as the latest technologies in the field of electric cars. In addition, Magneti Marelli Parts & Services will provide support for the technical training of XEV dealerships.
The partnership with Magneti Marelli Parts & Services, the commercial division of Marelli that distributes spare parts, automotive components and know-how to the workshops of the Magneti Marelli Checkstar network, will provide XEV customers with a perfect experience with the brand. “At XEV we stand by and constantly take care of our customers. The partnership with Magneti Marelli Parts & Services intends to offer our customers more choices and better services for an optimal experience with the brand. Together with the excellent know-how and widespread use of Magneti Marelli Checkstar workshops, we will achieve greater levels of safety, efficiency and customer satisfaction “, commented Lou Tik, founder and CEO of XEV.
“We are proud to offer owners of XEV cars an excellent assistance service in the most important European countries where we are present with the Magneti Marelli Checkstar network, in particular Italy, Spain and Poland. It is also a source of pride for us to be able to offer XEV dealers and mechanics, thanks to our expertise, training on the management of electric cars, an important step to access the future of car repairs today “, said Vincenzo Giaccone, Head of EMEA Technical Services and Equipment of Magneti Marelli Parts & Services.
By virtue of this partnership, the Magneti Marelli Checkstar network of workshops joined the current network of XEV dealers present in over 30 Italian cities, making assistance available for YOYO owners in more than 80 workshops throughout Italy. The agreement to provide maintenance services to XEV customers will then be extended to cover other European markets as well.
*This article was updated from its original version to reflect the fact that XEV uses a BigRep PRO system for 3D printing customizations and test parts