Building the biggest factory in the world

With a production target of 500,000 electric vehicles 2018, Tesla is building this gargantuan new factory of out necessity
Story by: David Renwick
A close-up of the construction site aerial photography, ancient history, photography, orange, brown
A close-up of the construction site

Right now, in Nevada, construction is underway on what will become the world's largest factory when it's completed in 2020.

Designed solely for battery and electric vehicle component manufacturing, it's clear why Tesla is building it. This is the company with a mission statement of "accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy through increasingly affordable electric vehicles and energy products", after all.

Tesla currently manufactures a variety of energy products, including the popular Model S, Model Y and Model 3 electric vehicles, the Solar Roof and Tesla energy storage for residential and commercial use. Underpinning nearly every Tesla product is the lithium-ion battery.

The company aims to produce 500,000 electric cars per year by 2018, excluding battery products. The company's current factory in California isn't up to the task.

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Construction underway on the Gigafactory aerial photography, bird's eye view, brown, black, gray
Construction underway on the Gigafactory

"The Tesla Gigafactory was born out of necessity and will supply enough batteries to support Tesla’s projected vehicle demand," Tesla explains.

But why ‘Gigafactory’? Surely the ‘megafactory’ designation is apt for such a large structure?

"The name Gigafactory comes from the word “Giga,” the unit of measurement representing “billions.” The factory’s planned annual battery production capacity is 35 gigawatt-hours (GWh), with one GWh being the equivalent of generating (or consuming) 1 billion watts for one hour. This is nearly as much as the entire world’s current battery production combined."

Tesla started work on the factory back in 2014, breaking ground at the Storey County, Nevada location. Since then, the company has worked hard to ramp up production while simultaneouly finishing work on the factory. Already, the factory has a footprint of over 1.9 million square feet. Eventually, it will extend over 4.9 million square feet across several floors.

A concept render for the finished Gigafactory energy, sky, solar power, technology, water, water resources, black
A concept render for the finished Gigafactory

While it may seem like such a large factory could easily meet Tesla's needs, other factories will almost certainly be required in the near future. According to Elon Musk (via Bloomberg), Tesla received US$800M of orders within a week of unveiling the substantial factory, made up of both PowerWall and PowerPack battery products. Musk estimated that the factory may not be able to meet demand.

Luckily, the company is already proceeding with plans for other factories. There's the so-called 'Gigafactory 2' underway in New York, and plans for a third in Europe.

Find out more about the Tesla Gigafactory (Tesla website)

Oct 26, 2017

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