A quick guide to the car manufacturing process

Manufacturing a vehicle is a complex process consisting of several different stages. Read on to find out more about how a car is built.

The body shop

In the body 'shop' (or department), the vehicle's engine block is constructed and its numerous components are assembled. The gear box, shafts and gear blanks are also joined together in this area of the manufacturing facility. Once these steps are finished, the various panels which make up the main body of the car, such as the roof, bonnet and doors, are built using sheet metal. Generally speaking, sheet metal fabrication is not done in-house by car manufacturers; instead, they usually source this material from a specialist sheet metal production supplier. These suppliers use laser cutting technology to cut the sheet metal into the exact shapes and dimensions the car manufacturer requires. 

The next stage in the production process is the welding of the aforementioned panels. This activity is carried out by robotic machinery and consists of sections of the car body's components being heated up to a specific melting point so that they can be joined together.

To keep the car parts still during this stage, they are secured into place using strong clamps. After the welding work is complete, the finished body is thoroughly inspected for faults and flaws by a team of quality control experts. They look for things like abrasions, dents and other visual defects which could create problems when the car is being painted.  If none are found, it is then sent over to the paint shop.

The paint shop

In this part of the manufacturing facility, the body of the car is primed and painted. Before this process begins, however, each car is thoroughly cleaned using a high-pressure water hose.

The painting stage varies slightly from one manufacturer to another; some will include additional protective, anti-corrosion coatings to ensure a durable, attractive paint finish. However, in most instances,  it consists of the application of a primer (which acts as a basecoat), a surfacer (this helps to create a smooth surface for the next paint layer), a topcoat (this serves as the car's final colour), and finally a clearcoat (this is used to create shine).

The assembly shop

This is where all of the car parts are assembled to create the final product. The interior upholstery (i.e. the chairs and carpets) are fitted and all of the mechanical components, such as the rear axle and power unit are assembled.

At the end of this stage of the production process, the vehicle is tested for safety and functionality. Several thousand types of inspections are carried out, to make sure that every part of the car, from the lights and the gears, to the brakes and electrical systems, are working as they should. Once the car passes all of these tests, it is then delivered to the customer.