Tesla’s Gigafactory to re-invent battery manufacturing process

Tesla has officially opened its Gigafactory, which (once complete) will be about 10 million square feet, making it the largest factory in the world.

According to Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, the building of the Nevada-based Gigafactory (which is expected to produce about 150 gigawatts) is a major part of the company’s mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”.

“It’s about being able to make enough electric cars and enough stationary battery packs that it actually moves the needle from a global carbon production perspective, so that it really does change the world,” said Musk in a public announcement.

He also noted that the purpose of the factory was to produce more batteries than ever, and at a cost that would be affordable for consumers.

After two years of development, the factory is about 14 per cent complete, according to Tesla.

“The basic math was that in order to make half a million cars per year, we would need every lithium-ion battery factory on Earth that makes batteries for phones, laptops and cars, just to achieve that output,” said Musk.

“There just wasn’t enough factory capacity anywhere else in the world. This factory will have the output of all the other lithium-ion factories combined when it’s done.”

According to Musk, the factory was designed on three principles:

  1. Imagine the factory as a machine
  2. Design the machine from the First Principles of physics
  3. Optimise speed and density

“We have some of our best engineering teams working on actually laying out the factory and working on how to fit more density and more equipment into the same footprint,” said JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer.

“This is really key to how we’ve been able to reduce the cost of the cells and the batteries that come out of here so much.”

“It’s not just replicating things that have been done before; we’re re-inventing the battery manufacturing process from end-to-end,” he added.

“I’m really excited to be revitalising manufacturing,” said Musk.

“It needs love, and we’re going to give it.”