It’s not even finished yet, but Tesla Motors’ [NASDAQ:TSLA] massive lithium-ion manufacturing and reprocessing Gigafactory — located on the north-eastern fringes of Reno, Nevada — is already an impressive sight, with drone videos showing its half-finished superstructure positively dwarfing the huge cranes and construction equipment used to built it.
Indeed, when it was first unveiled, Tesla MotorsCEO Elon Musk said that the Gigafactory would be the biggest lithium-ion manufacturing and reprocessing plant in the world, churning out a total of 35 Gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion cells every year and a total of 50 Gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion battery packs.
But as our friends at Electrek detail (via GreenCarReports), Tesla has just purchased an additional 1,200 acres of land adjacent to the Gigafactory construction site as part of a plan to dramatically increase the size of the facility. Even with 1,200 new acres to play with, Tesla is looking to purchase 350 more, essentially doubling the amount of land owned by Tesla at Electric Avenue, Sparks, Reno, Nevada.
News of the purchase was announced by Dean Haymore from the Story County Commission at a recent presentation about the Tahoe Reno Industrial Centre where the gigafactory is located.
During his presentation, Haymore is reported to have said that the new purchase of land by Tesla is part of a plan to have ‘7 blocks’ similar to the one already under construction. Originally, the Gigafactory design was designed to use just four of those blocks. If all seven are completed, he explained, Tesla’s Gigafactory would cover 24 million square feet — more than twice the original 10 million square feet planned.
If that’s true, Electrek says, the Tesla Gigafactory would become the largest building by footprint on the entire earth.
It follows then that output would increase to more than 100 Gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion battery packs per year. Given the original Tesla Gigafactory was designed dot churn out enough battery packs for half a million Tesla cars per year, the expansion could raise that figure to more than one million Tesla Model S-sized battery packs per year.
While it’s unlikely those 100 Gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion battery packs will actually make it into one million electric cars, the economies of scale brought about by lithium ion production on such a large size will ensure that Tesla’s next-generation Model ≡ mid-sized sedan — due some time in 2017 — will be both competitively priced against other plug-in cars but perhaps even gasoline-powered vehicles of similar specification.
Officially, Tesla hasn’t confirmed or denied plans to expand t he Gigafactory to this gargantuan size — but at both the recent Tesla Motors annual shareholder meeting and during the Q1 2015 earnings call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has commented that Tesla has been looking into the possibility of increasing planned production at the Gigafactory due to unbelievable demand for its recently-announced Tesla Energy products.
Indeed, Tesla recently secured a $500 million line of credit from some of the world’s biggest financial institutions to help it secure necessary operating capital over the coming few years. Some of that money is expected to go towards building of the Gigafactory.
But Tesla won’t be the only company investing large sums of money in the construction of the Gigafactory. Panasonic — Tesla’s current battery provider — is rumoured to be investing upwards of $1 billion in the construction of the facility, and will install and operate the high-tech clean-room equipment needed to construct lithium-ion cells.
Interestingly, Haymore says other firms will join Tesla and Panasonic at the Gigafactory site too, with more than 14 other companies joining Panasonic to ensure that Tesla’s production needs are met.
Whichever way you cut it, that’s going to do some truly amazing things to the local economy.
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