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Tesla to build Semis and expand battery production at Nevada Gigafactory

Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory is quite a place—since its 2014 opening, the company has invested $6.2 billion in the region, and the 5.4-million-square-foot, 11,000-employee facility has produced some 7.3 billion battery cells, 1.5 million battery packs and 3.6 million drive units.

Now Tesla has announced plans to invest an additional $3.6 billion, hire 3,000 more team members, and add two new major operations at the site: one to build 4680-format battery cells at an annual capacity of 100 GWh (enough for around 1.5 million electric vehicles); and another to build the new Tesla Semi electric Class 8 truck.

Tesla originally announced that the expansion would consist of “two new factories,” but CEO Elon Musk has now made it clear that the plan is to build out the existing Gigafactory building to its originally-planned dimensions in order to accommodate the new cell and Semi production.

According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Tesla’s total annual battery capacity could be as much as 439 GWh by the end of the decade, nipping at the heels of China’s BYD, the world’s largest EV battery producer with some 546 GWh of forecast capacity. (Elon has been talking much bigger numbers—500 GWh a year in Nevada and 1,000 GWh total).

Tesla has been increasing production of its 4680 cells in California and in Texas, tripling production in the third quarter of last year from the previous quarter. Benchmark believes the company’s goal is to bring its cell-level cost down to $70 per kWh.

“Tesla has prioritized the ramp-up of US-based cell capacity over the past year, having previously made the decision to move battery manufacturing equipment from Giga Berlin to its facility in Austin, Texas,” said Benchmark Analyst Evan Hartley. “This new expansion plan in Nevada signifies a continued focus on domestic cell production.”

It’s unclear whether Panasonic, which currently makes battery cells at Tesla’s Nevada Gig, will be involved in the next round of expansion.

Meanwhile, Tesla’s earnings announcement for Q4 2022 brought the news of the company’s “best year ever on every level” (the stock market seems to have gotten the memo several months late). In 2022, Tesla delivered over 1.3 million cars and achieved a stellar 17% operating margin.

“On a full-year basis, revenue increased over 50%, operating income doubled, free cash flows increased over 50%, and our margins remained industry-leading,” said CFO Zach Kirkhorn.

Sources: Tesla, Benchmark, EVannex, Yahoo Finance, Electrek, CNET

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