Tesla's new gigafactory -- what we know

Tesla gigafactory

When Tesla builds a new factory, it doesn't exactly go for understated.

The electric car maker's new gigafactory, located in Sparks, Nevada, is already huge, and it is not nearly completed yet. Operating with partner Panasonic, Tesla has lofty plans for the factory, but still has a long way to go before reaching those goals. So what is Tesla hoping to accomplish? And how does this play into its overall game plan?

In IT Blogwatch, we go big or go home.

So what is the gigafactory? And what is going to be built there? Peter Valdes-Dapena gives us some background:

This is the gigafactory, where Tesla plans to build enough lithium ion batteries to catapult Tesla's electric vehicles into the mainstream. The factory...has almost 2 million square feet of space...and the structure is only 14% complete.
By the end of this year Tesla plans to have...Panasonic making...actual battery cells here. Panasonic and Tesla will each operate parts of the facility...Panasonic will make battery cells, and Tesla will assemble those cells into battery packs.

Ah, so the gigafactory is going to produce batteries, not cars. Interesting. What else do we know? Megan Geuss fills in the blanks:

Musk claimed that Tesla and Panasonic could potentially triple the projected battery output for the factory, delivering up to 150 gigawatt hours of storage per year by 2020...Tesla is hoping to deliver 35 gigawatt hours of auto and stationary batteries by 2018. 
Tesla needs the economies of scale from a project like the gigafactory...to deliver on the Tesla Model 3...Tesla [said] the company would have 500,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2018. The success of the gigafactory will be a crucial factor in whether Tesla meets those goals.

Like I said, go big or go home. But what's the end goal here? And is this gigafactory a one and only type thing? Robert Ferris gives us the lowdown:

Musk said the...gigafactory would ultimately be able to produce enough batteries to support up to 1.5 million cars...three times the number of cars he originally expected the factory to support when running at full capacity.
It is...not likely to be the last gigafactory, either. Musk said...it would...be most efficient to place a gigafactory on every continent where Tesla products were sold, and considers the factory itself a product the Tesla would continue to refine and improve with every iteration.

But back to that 14% complete thing. That means this place is going to be big. Really big. Perttu Lehtinen, for one has trouble wrapping his head around that:

My brain is not able to comprehend the full size. It's just enormous.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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