Video: First Tesla Motors Gigafactory Drone Flyover Lets You Explore It in Glorious 4k

[UPDATE: Thanks to Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk for tweeting earlier this evening to let us know that the site shown in this video is only a tiny proportion of the finished size…]

For nearly a year now, we’ve been closely following the construction of Tesla’s first Gigafactory, a massive 1,000-acre lithium-ion manufacturing and reprocessing facility in Reno, Nevada.

The first ever 4k Video of the Gigafactory is impressive.

The first ever 4k Video of the Gigafactory is impressive.

Essential to Tesla Motors’ [NASDAQ:TLSA] CEO Elon Musk’s ultimate plan of weaning the world off fossil fuels and onto clean, renewable energy for our homes and our transportation, the Gigafactory is due to reach completion next year and will ultimately produce upwards of 35 gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion battery packs and 55 gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion battery cells every year. When fully commissioned, it will employ more than 6,500 staff and will be the largest lithium-ion processing facility in the world.

Since groundwork first started back in July last year, long before the site was confirmed by Tesla as the official site for the Gigafactory, locals in Reno Nevada like plug-in advocate Bob Tregilus have kept us up-to-date with the construction thanks to some truly stunning high-resolution photographs. We’ve even seen some impressive aerial photography thanks to locals with their own light aircraft who have flown by the site from the air.

To see a static high-resolution photo from last year, click here. (Photo: CC By NC- SA 4.0. Bob Tregilus)

Now, thanks to the wonders of aerial drone technology and 4k ultra high-definition video, we’re able to see the Tesla Gigafactory in the kind of high-resolution detail never before seen.

The video, posted on YouTube yesterday evening by YouTuber QuickLaptopCash — a youtube channel we note previously hasn’t covered Tesla or electric vehicles — was recorded over the weekend and shows us for the first time just how incredibly gargantuan the Gigafactory site really is.

Thanks to the wonders of aerial drone technology and 4k ultra high-definition video, we’re able to see the Tesla Gigafactory in the kind of high-resolution detail never before seen

Describing the video, the poster says “to ensure safety this video was recorded while no workers were present and from over one mile away with a DJI Phantom 3 Professional Drone utilising GPS.”

The drone — available from various online retailers — comes complete with a 4K video camera and the ability to pan and tilt the camera remotely, giving us a really in-depth flypast of the Gigafactory site.

“The drone was in constant visual contact as well as maintaining an altitude of not more than 400 feet above ground level,” the poster informers us.

The Gigafactory's size never fails to impress us (Photo: CC By NC- SA 4.0. Bob Tregilus)

The Gigafactory’s size never fails to impress us (Photo: CC By NC- SA 4.0. Bob Tregilus)

We’ve found ourselves watching the video several times on loop this morning, and each time, we pick out something new to remind us of just how large the Gigafactory really will be when it is completed next year. Aside from the many cranes and earth-movers which are parked up in various places on the site — all of which look like children’s toys against the mighty construction of the Gigafactory — the two neighbouring 17-acre facilities in the distance look positively small against the Gigafactory’s footprint.

In one shot, a portable lighting mast with attached generator — something that usually towers over construction sites — sits in the foreground, barely recognisable against the massive construction site behind it.

We suspect this won’t be the last drone flight video we see of what we’re going to call a wonder of the future post-oil world.

It’s not even finished. As one of the higher fly-over shots shows us, there’s still substantial ground work to be done, with clearly visible dark circles in the ground marking where future uprights will be positioned. Indeed, as Tesla CEO Elon Musk disclosed during Tesla Motors’ Q1 2015 earnings call, overwhelming demand for Tesla’s recently-launched Tesla Energy products — all of which need a strong, steady supply of lithium-ion cells from the Gigafactory to keep up with demand — means that Tesla is already considering expanding its Gigafactory footprint even further.

By the time is is completed next year, Tesla will have spent an estimated $5 billion on its construction and commissioning, with Japanese electronics giant Panasonic believed to be investing a further $1 billion of its own funds in the project as a joint Gigafactory partner.

With that in mind, we suspect this won’t be the last drone flight video we see of what we’re going to call a wonder of the future post-oil world.

[UPDATE: May 19 Earlier this evening Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the following size clarification on Twitter. Apparently, the Gigafactory is a little bit bigger than we actually thought…]


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  • Peter Mortensen

    This is the beginning of a new era of transportation using electricity instead of gas. Some day when the market effectively transitions to EV, we will see many of these factories and lots of great clean new jobs will be created on our own soil. Compared to oil drilling, oil refineries, super tankers etc., these factories will run on green energy and working there will be as safe as any other job. And yes, we can whine about Lithium mines affecting the environment near the mines, but those really are minor and very localized issues on a bigger scale.
    Rather we should care about how to protect our health and planet for current and future generations allowing all of us to thrive and breath without worrying about getting illnesses e.g. lung cancer from tailpipe hydrocarbon emissions.

    • Glorious_Cause

      Nahh…they’re just replacing Big Oil with Big Mining

      • Joe Viocoe

        You burn through as much weight in oil in a week, as an EV driver uses in 10 years, and then after, the lithium is still recyclable

        • Dan Tyler

          Keep in mind, lots of bad illness associated with production with lithium.
          Lots of BAD illness like horrible forms of cancer that people never get when we use oil efficiently.
          The very same morons that cried for efficiency with gasoline are now trumpeting the benefits of lithium batteries.
          So many will suffer the pains of lithium extraction, production and consumption of this very nasty element before millions will cry for its replacement with something else in 20 years!!
          But, enjoy your new industry. Enjoy the loss of thousands of acres of virgin area (even desert areas)

          • Michaelb15

            Bah we can just send them over to africa as “charitable donations” like we do with the rest of our electronics. No biggie!

          • Dan,

            Could you provide us with some links to peer-reviewed medical papers on this?


            Nikki — Editor.

          • Dan Tyler

            Is this a standard tactic of the left- cry for “peer reviewed medical papers” when confronted with opposing views?
            Never mind… asking the left about their tactics is a waste of time.

          • Ad van der Meer

            Yeah, this obsession with facts is just crazy! Why bother proving stuff when just saying it is so much easier.

          • Peter Mortensen

            Try to search in Pubmed. A couple of examples of environmental damage peer reviewed papers:

            “Impact of industrial pollution on emission of carbon dioxide by soils in the Kola Subarctic Region.”

            “Comprehensive Evaluation of Antibiotics Emission and Fate in the River Basins of China: Source Analysis, Multimedia Modeling, and Linkage to Bacterial Resistance.”

            I spent zero time on this, but I’m sure you can find many others.

          • Joe Viocoe

            Who is ingesting lithium? Nobody is burning it, that’s for sure.

            Post a link to a study about this.

          • Dan Tyler

            “Ingesting lithium”?!?!
            Wow, the pro – earth crowd is reaching.

          • Peter Mortensen

            Yes, I’m confident that it will be much safer to work at the coming Tesla Gigafactory than at any gas station, any refinery, any oil drilling platform or in any American restaurant where the cooking involves frying oil (I know it’s different oil, but it’s also leading to toxins in the air).

      • Doug Beebe

        Big Mining doesn’t cause climate change nor does it cause war.

        • Dan Tyler

          It just causes vast amounts of illness and death. Especially when people dig up the likes of lithium.
          If a conservative promotes the value of decreased consumption, libs tell them to shut up.
          If a lib promotes a new battery factory, conservatives know not to say anything!

          • Doug Beebe

            “Causes vast amounts of illness and death”…..baloney, baloney, baloney….lies, lies, lies….

          • Dan Tyler

            I think I’ve been out-witted: “…..baloney, baloney, baloney… lies, lies, lies…”
            Hard to fight that kind of rapier wit!

      • People like Glorious-cause with an entrenched belief will NEVER be convinced by the facts.

        They gravitate towards contrary arguments that feel good, like:
        – solar panels are bad for the environment
        – EVs are dirtier than combustion cars, because
        – …manufacturing
        – …all the electricity must come from coal

        Guys, you don’t get the basic concept of “renewable” over “consumable”. Even if solar and batteries are hard on the environment, they are hard ONCE, then last for decades. And Lithium can be recycled. And Lithium isn’t the existential threat. Carbon is.

        • Dan Tyler

          “carbon” is the bad boy?
          We are composed, mostly, of carbon.
          Not much lithium in a human being.
          Not yet, anyway…

          • Michaelb15

            Actually we are composed of mostly Oxygen, and hydrogen. (H20). Carbon makes up about 15% of our mass, where as oxygen alone makes up 65% of our mass. /science class over

          • “carbon” is the bad boy?

            YES. Seems like you are being willfully ignorant. It turns out that Carbon, like a light bulb, is able to be really good in some places, and really bad in others. Take an incandescent glass light bulb. In the right socket, it gives you light to work at night, but in your anus, it’s quite painful and is at risk of breaking into dangerous sharp pieces. See how that works? It’s OK in one place, not OK in the other. This is a basic concept that you should have brought to the discussion from the start.

            So, yeah, Carbon is one of the things we’re made of. But it’s much more important than that. Most all life on our planet revolves around Carbon. We’re made of it, we eat it, we breathe it out. Plants breathe it in. And an equilibrium of it stored in the ground, and available above the surface of the planet is one of the dials that regulates the climate we have in this age – twist that dial, and the equilibrium is no longer assured. It’s largely BECAUSE carbon is so important to all life that how we handle it really matters.

            So, take that carbon out of the ground, and put it in the air, and we have an existential, planet wide threat to the equilibrium. Just as you would be in danger with a light bulb in your ass.

          • Dan Tyler

            Nice… now humans are disrupting what, the carbon balance of earth?
            I have not commented on these goofy pages before: now I see why.
            Just so anyone concerned can know, I drive 2 Prius’, get higher mileage on my other car than almost anyone else and carry very little debt.
            Sorry I will not play the goofy reindeer games of the left.
            Life is too short and precious to waste any of it going down the rat hole of the left.

          • “now humans are disrupting what, the carbon balance of earth?”

            Hey, you’re getting it! Almost there. Actually, we’re not disrupting the carbon balance “of earth”. Earth has had many different carbon balances through the eons. What we’re disrupting is the carbon balance of the age of humans. We’re disrupting our habitat. The earth will be fine, and doesn’t give a shit.

            Not sure why promoting a sustainable human habitat is considered “left”. I own three profitable businesses, and have an Ivy MBA. Today, apparently I’m “left” because I want both of:

            – me to be able to live a bountiful life

            – my grandkids to do the same

          • Dan Tyler

            No, you’re “left” because you believe people are able to modify a planet, even without trying.
            Take your grand kids out for a hotdog.
            Try not to cry over the murdered pig.

          • BTW, for those of you who say “humans can’t modify something at a planetary scale”. I would point you at a prior environmental problem called the “Ozone Hole”. You probably remember it. We were depleting the amount of ozone at high altitudes, mostly by use of CFCs. Depletion was becoming serious, since the Ozone layer protects us from UV radiation.

            So, many nations together ratified the Montreal Protocol, and we’ve gone a long way to fixing that disaster. We can ruin out habitat, and we are also able to work together to protect it.

            Don’t be a science-denier. Humans affect their habitat, and do hundreds of other species. It’s known, it’s measured, it’s peer-reviewed. That’s not 100% guaranteed, but it’s a lot better than your counter-science gut feeling.

          • Peter Mortensen

            You mean God, our common sky daddy, doesn’t control our climate and Jesus is not coming back to save us soon (if we have a relationship with him)? LOL, I must admit it’s a bit embarrassing to be among fellow Americans sincerely believing they are sinners because of a talking snake fooling some naked ancestors who came to be 6000 years ago 🙂
            This religious nonsense is part reason for the ignorance in America concerning the global warming issue. But it’s great news that now even the Pope is waking up advising Catholics to start doing something to save our planet’s climate.

          • Peter Mortensen

            American politics is stupid. If you are atheist, believe in science education driving future economics, EVs taking a primary role in transportation in the next decade and want to do the best efforts including tax policies promoting a greener and cleaner future, you can’t be republican. Why the heck are we stuck with only two corrupt political parties that really don’t represent well the opinions of many of us and lack any level of visionary decision making? (why we are an economy of printing money)

          • Carl Edward

            Peter, Obama is the money printer…..

          • Peter Mortensen

            Well said Derek. Our CO2 emissions are causing accumulative effects because it represent a whopping continuous 5% man-made CO2 being added to the natural cycle that originate from outside our eco system (millions of years old).

        • Joe Viocoe

          Don’t feed the climate change denying trolls.

          • Kenneth Beck

            What are you supposed to feed them? Reality doesnt work….maybe bullshit is the only thing they’ll take. Lol

      • Cheerful Clips

        Dear Glorious Big Oil Cause
        Wow! That terrible Big Mining stuff is just awful. I read a TruthReportOnline that said that Big Mining pipeline projects have shoddy welds so the pipelines often leak mining stuff all over the ground and into our freshwater, creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, and our neighbors kitchen sinks. The Big Mining off shore drilling platforms typically explode and kill all the fish and ducks and ruin all the Duck Diners on shore. There is talk now of battery cell drilling operations popping up in rural neighborhoods that cause the ground to shake and kitchen sinks get creepy water real quick. Science has shown that Humanity is not responsibile for astronomical amounts of CO2 in the sky over the last 10 years. 1.5% of all CO2 Scientists say it’s them battery mining Corporations that cause the CO2 that will cause Global Climate Flooding in Kansas and other places.

        Glorious Big Oil Cause you are hereby invited to become a member of our new nonprofit Institution / Foundation. You can find us on the Internets Machine at Elon Musk CyberTrolls R Us .com

  • Joseph Dubeau


  • evjuice

    Hilarious to read the text that is amazed at how gargantuan this factory is. Then Elon tweets this is just a baby.

    And this is Gigafactory #1. Talks of 40 of them are rumored

    • ILikeFish

      His goal is 200. The sheer scale of this blows my mind out the side of my head.

      • evjuice

        I also heard 400. I hesitated to print that number to save other’s from unscheduled cranial disassembly.

        • Dan Tyler

          As opposed to “scheduled cranial disassembly”?
          Look for more garbage. I bet you can find “articles” reporting that 1000 of these stupid Li battery factories will be built.

  • Sloppy half hearted journalism. You never mentioned who Quick Laptop Cash was or who the PERSON who shot this video was. Triviallly easy to find out.

  • Lithium-ion battery pack production in Storey County, NV in 21016

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  • Bieber before hos

    Looks like they are building it on Mars…Nevada looks like a barren wasteland.

  • Henry Ford was lambasted as a lunatic when he expanded the Ford Motor Co plant.

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