Tesla Gigafactory Update: High-Res Shot Shows Buildings Now Going up in Reno, NV

Six months ago, our correspondent Bob Tregilus broke the news that a site at the Taho Reno Industrial Centre — just outside Reno Nevada — was a hive of activity as the first potential site for Tesla’s massive lithium-ion battery manufacturing and reprocessing Gigafactory. While Tesla didn’t confirm the site initially and ground workers appeared laid off the day after the story broke, the site was eventually confirmed by Tesla, first as one of several ‘potential’ Gigafactory sites being developed and then later as its chosen Gigafactory site.

Since becoming official, the Tesla Gigafactory has remained out of the spotlight, with other Tesla stories — namely its dual-motor Model S and autonomous drive offerings — grabbing most of the media spotlight.

But as the latest photograph taken by Tregilus yesterday shows, construction is now under full swing at the Gigafactory site.

Since our last visit, the Gigafactory site has progressed impressively, with several buildings now visible.

Since our last visit, the Gigafactory site has progressed impressively, with several buildings now visible. (Click on the image to see the full-size, super-high resolution version!)

The new photograph looks north west from just south of the aptly-named “Electric Avenue,” Tesla’s official address for the Gigafactory. It shows four massive cranes working on desert construction site, lifting pieces of the main Gigafactory building into place. (We note the fourth crane appears to be in two places at once, which we presume is a consequence of this impressive massive photograph being stiched together from several smaller photographs)

It’s from a different angle to the previous shot we have, which was taken by Tregilus from slightly further west, looking east, northeast.

Overview of the gigafactory site. View is to the east-northeast. The project site extends up the valley to the left (north) another couple of hundred yards. (7/22/2014)

Overview of the gigafactory site. View is to the east-northeast. The project site extends up the valley to the left (north) another couple of hundred yards. (7/22/2014)

Meanwhile, several hundred cars and trucks sit in a make-shift parking lot away from the main construction site, and massive earth-moving trucks process to and from the site itself.

From a distance and the size of this massive photograph, it’s tough to get a good idea of size. But if you look at the two buildings on the left of the picture — which aren’t part of the Gigafactory site and are located off Milan Drive on the map below — each takes up approximately 17 acres.

That’s big by anyone’s standards, but as you can see, the Gigafactory positively dwarfs these two other nearby buildings. Zoom in a little closer, and it’s easy to see that the people on the image — those working on the construction — are barely visible against the mass of machinery and metal.

As you can see below, while the facility may look like a standard two-storey office building from afar, each story is many, many times the height of an average human.

Look hard, and you might see people. (Photo: CC By NC- SA 4.0. Bob Tregilus)

Look hard, and you might see people. (Photo: CC By NC- SA 4.0. Bob Tregilus)

Assuming construction stays on track, Tesla aims to have completed production of the Gigafactory in just over a year’s time, with the facility ready and able to start production on lithium-ion batteries in time for the highly-anticipated Tesla Model ≡ five-seat sedan, which is expected to launch in 2017 as a 2018 model year car.

Overall, Tesla plans to invest $5 billion in the construction of the Gigafactory, with an additional undisclosed investment — believed to be around $1 billion — coming from Tesla’s current battery provider and shareholder Panasonic. On top of this, Tesla was awarded a total of $1.25 billion in tax breaks and abatements last year by the state of Nevada  as part of the incentive package which finally secured the Reno site as Tesla’s chosen Gigafactory location.

To help you peruse the image in ultra-fine detail, we’ve included the full-resolution image for you to see above. Simply click on the top gigafactory image and the full-size version will appear in a new window. Thanks to Bob Tregilus for helping us share this under the CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

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