Tesla Gigafactory begins producing cells


It seems we’ve been waiting forever, but in fact, as these things go, it happened with lightning speed. Tesla’s game-changing Gigafactory has started producing battery cells, destined for the Powerwall and other energy storage products and, beginning in the second quarter, the Model 3. The sprawling Nevada plant is already assembling utility-scale Powerpacks for Southern California Edison.

This is a historic event for several reasons. It’s a big win for American manufacturing, giving us a foothold in an industry currently dominated by China, Japan, and South Korea, which together supplied 88% of the global market for lithium-ion cells in 2015. Over 2,900 people are already working at the 4.9-million-square-foot facility (less than a third of its eventual size), and Tesla and Panasonic expect to have 6,500 full-time employees there by 2018. The Gigafactory is a large and prominent illustration that the future of manufacturing lies in high-tech clean energy, not in 20th-century smokestack industries.



For Tesla, the Gig is of existential importance.  Without it, the company could never come anywhere near its goal of 500,000 Model 3 sales by 2018, because there simply isn’t enough lithium-ion battery production in the world. Furthermore, for Model 3 (and EVs in general) to be profitable, battery prices will need to come down significantly. Tesla is counting on the massive scale of the $5-billion Gigafactory to drive down costs enough to make EVs competitive with legacy vehicles.



Source: Bloomberg, Tesla

  • brian_gilbert

    The solution to Tesla’s problem of making its electric cars economical is to go for ‘Completely Driverless Zones/ Countries. With vehicles hired by the trip only 5 to 10% of the oroginal number are required to provide the same standard of service. A higher cost per vehicle then leads to a much lower cost per trip.
    An goodway of promoting ‘completely driverless’ would be to make the giga factory completely driverless and use the currently unused part of the site as a test/demo layout.

    • howardpatr

      The “unused part of the factory” might used to manufacture, under licence, 24M batteries?


      • brian_gilbert

        Yes ot probably will but meanwhile it can be used as I suggest at low cost. All it needs is the road surface. The computer controlling needs negliigible space. Just running all the new cars on it empty doing random trips will test the cars as well which has to be done anyway. It cannot fail to attract free publicity.

  • Longtimber

    Anyone guess if these cells are 18650’s or 2170’s? I’m under the impression that the majority of the activity at the GF will be Module assembly for a while yet. (??) Perhaps 1st Product for the new cell might be a 120 kWh Model S ??

    • Ozzie Perch

      I think the rumour is that they are 21700; the other choice being 20700. That is roughly 25 percent more capacity.

    • http://www.efest.ca Robert (Electricman) Weekley

      They are “the new 2170 battery cells” – details in the link below!

  • brian_gilbert

    Help! I am an advocate of adopting Completely Driverless roads.
    i am assuming for that purpose that roads would be maintained to a high standard as they are supposed to be now so that vehicles are not damaged by bad roads. I am also assuming that the vehicles are located by something like GPS pr 5G technology so that it’s cost is not affected by the length of the roads used. Many companies such as Tesla seem to claim that their systems can do this but do not give enough detail to justify claiming it in my costing.
    Can anyone tell me of a company offerring a central computer system which can locate vehicles precisely enough to keep them in a standard road lane without risk of touching vehicles in an adjacent road lane and which does not require marking the road lane physically?

    • TBex

      I don’t think GPS can possibly be used to that level of precision. Driving is done using on-board sensors (laser, radar, cameras) or vehicle-to-vehicle and infrastructure-to-vehicle communication. GPS would only be for navigation between destinations.

      • brian_gilbert

        I must admit though I have seen claims of 2 to 4 cm they have not been supported by good sources. They usually say that it will need the 5 G phone technology just coming into use. At a pinch the system used by the MASDAR Personal Rapid Transit System in Abu Dhabi since 2011, could be used. That requires magnetic markers inserted in the road lanes at about 4 metre intervals and the cost is probably acceptable. I must admit that I would prefer not to need any change to the roads.

        • http://www.efest.ca Robert (Electricman) Weekley

          You mention – “claims of 2 to 4 cm”, and it sounds like – but is not clear, that you mean – “claims of 2 to 4 cm position accuracy for GPS” – is that your intent?

          If so – it might be referring things like DGPS – Differential GPS – which uses a ground based GPS Repeater – that is at a Surveyed fixed location and broadcasts positional error correction – “Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) is an enhancement to Global Positioning System that provides improved location accuracy, from the 15-meter nominal GPS accuracy to about 10 cm in case of the best implementations.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differential_GPS

          Still not Strictly GPS or DGPS getting down to a consistent 2 to 4 cm position accuracy, but – when combined with other additional Sensors, could get a combined result down to that level, I expect!

          • brian_gilbert

            Small Personal Rapid Transit Systems in operation at Masdar-Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow Airport-England since 2010 use guideways which have built-in contact-free guidance systems that locate the vehicles within 2-4 cm but require wiring along the route. I want to avoid wiring the route as that would mean a capital cost and maintenance for every mile of the route.

            Elsewhere there is the expectation that 5G telephony masts erected for telephony, can provide this precision without any special wiring of the route. I have yet to see any confirmation that this has been achieved yet but it seems logical that it will if not already the case. Although I thought earlier that GPS could do the job as it improved, I have not seen any progress report on that.

  • http://www.efest.ca Robert (Electricman) Weekley

    This has pretty good coverage on the actual presentation – https://electrek.co/2017/01/12/tesla-battery-cell-presentation-gigafactory/