The one car or rather SUV that has been buzzing and will continue to do so for some time now is the new-generation Hyundai Creta. It was showcased in flesh at the 2020 Auto Expo and it will be launched in India on March 17, 2020 and we will be driving the car soon too. We had the opportunity to experience the complete manufacturing process of the new Creta at Hyundai's plant in Chennai. And when we say 'complete manufacturing process' we mean it!
The press shop literally makes the building blocks of any car. What happens is, first a coil of sheet metal (steel, in this case) arrives at the press shop. Then, it is cut into desired lengths and then it is pressed and stamped into different body panels, such as the roof, doors, fenders, bonnets and so on. So, we first visited the press shop at the Hyundai plant and saw the roof panel being stamped in the Hyundai's Rotem press machine and literally being rolled hot off the press!
Once all the body panels are beaten into shape, then all those parts are sent to the body shop where all panels are welded together. You would be interested to know that there are 1,683 welding spots per car and all of which is done by 220 4th generation robots. 100 per cent of the welding process is completely automated. The completion of the welding process results in the making of the new-generation Creta's body shell. About 74.3 per cent of the body shell is made of advanced high strength steel and it weighs about 297 kg. Once a body-in-white (BIW) is complete, it goes through special 3D scanner that checks over 1,200 points on the shell for anomalies and discrepancies.
After the press shop and the body shop, we visited the engine bay where the 1.5-litre diesel engine for the Creta is manufactured. The petrol engines will be imported while the diesel engine is being manufactured at the plant itself. The all-new Creta will have a total of three engine options, which are a 1.4-litre turbo petrol, 1.5-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel engine. The 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines will have a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed torque converter automatic gearbox while the 1.4-litre turbo petrol will be offered with just a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Well, for reasons of our well-being, Hyundai decided to keep the paint shop out of bounds because firstly, the entire process is quite complicated and completely automated and like a paint shop would be, there are a lot of chemicals in play. In a gist, each body shell (BIW) is dipped multiple times in a variety of solutions to give it anti-corrosion treatment and cleans the metal for paint application. Once, the paint is applied, the BIW is baked in an oven, which makes the paint better resistant to chips, dings and so on. Also, the sealant is applied in order to make the car waterproof and the final checks are carried out.
This is where the magic happens and the new-generation Creta comes together. The assembly line in Plant 1, at Hyundai's Chennai plant can cater to seven models and in multiple trims. The assembly line is 960 metres in length and 154 stations and can assemble 330,000 cars a year. The A1 assembly line works at a speed of 45 units per hour. The body shell is fitted with doors, wheels, engine, fuel tank, axles, gearbox, headlamps and all the internal paraphernalia. And finally, the car is ready to be tested and sent to the PDI bay. Of course, once the car is completely ready, it needs to be tested and driven to make sure it is ready and performing flawlessly before it is shipped out.
This is where the final touches to the new-generation Creta are applied before it is ready to hit the showrooms. The SUV is checked for anomalies inside out and the badges are applied as per the engine options and trim. The paint, the lights, the horn, the wipers and everything is checked and the technician confirms whether all functions of the car are working in perfect manner or not. Once the PDI checklist is tallied, the car is ready to be shipped out to showrooms!
Photography: Pawan Dagia