Just days after Musk put forward his enormous plan for connected transport in the form of ‘Masterplan Deux‘, Tesla has finally dropped off the curtains and opened up its humongous ‘Gigafactory’ amid the Nevada desert. This ambitious factory is aimed at nearly doubling world’s lithium-ion battery production and its own Tesla Model 3’s as well.
The electric car manufacturer held a consumer launch on Tuesday, to give us a peak into what the company is investing its resources into. The key objective of the Gigafactory — as also stated many times before — is to make energy storage as efficient and cheap as possible. It is also working towards opening the doors to a completely sustainable energy ecosystem, including both transportation and power generation.
This also falls in line with founder and CEO Elon Musk’s dream of building out Tesla into a complete transportation facility, with electric buses, pick-up trucks, semis and cars(of course!) under its arm. Its interest in the acquisition of solar-power generation startup SolarCity and its expansion into the homes of a Tesla owner is also a part of the grand future plan.
The battery production giant, also known as the ‘Gigafactory‘ has been under construction for the past two years. Bloomberg reports that only 14 per cent of the construction work is complete at the moment, but estimates that the size of the factory will match that of 107 NFL Football fields or roughly 10 million square foot(woah!).
The company said that making its own lithium-ion batteries at a larger scale will help them reduce its battery costs by more than a third, when the factory is fully-operational by 2018. The factory is huge and jam-packed with equipments that require skilled labours to the tune of tens of thousands in the next three to four years.
Tesla has also partnered with Panasonic — who has invested $1.6 billion — to supply manufacturing parts for the construction of the batteries. It is also shipping cells from Japan to help Tesla expand its Powerwall business, running in another part of the Gigafactory. Musk in the launch event added that the Powerwall(charging brick mounted on the wall) will initially make up for about one-third of the production output, but will eventually bump up to half of the total capacity.
Currently, the company is in much need of a huge number of lithium-ion batteries to stuff into its latest inexpensive iteration — the Tesla Model 3, which is scheduled to go on sale by the end of next year. It has already received an over-whelming 500,000 pre-orders for the Model 3 from all around the world. Musk believes that the Gigafactory will be ready in time for the delivery of the vehicles.
Tesla further adds that the factory synonymous to its name will be producing over 35 gigawatt hours of batteries by 2018. And Musk also adds that, if need be, the factory can also produce upto 150 gigawatt hours of batteries to power its vehicles. And to reduce costs, Tesla is using a differently engineered battery to power the Model 3 as compared to the previous Model X and S.
Tesla is scaling and bulking up fast, but it might serious competition from other electric car and battery manufacturers quite soon. Chinese automater BYD Co., which is backed by Warren Buffet and Samsung is also in the business of building batteries and energy storage systems. Sustainable Energy has recently attracted eye-balls from all, and various ambitious manufacturers including Faraday Future, LeEco, BMW, among others are also stepping foot into the electric car business in the near future.