The Telsa Gigafactory Faces Skepticism



Tesla CEO Elon Musk has plans to build a massive battery “Gigafactory” someplace in the United States. The Gigafactory would start production by 2017 and by 2020 would produce enough lithium-ion batteries batteries for 500,000 electric cars.  The question is will this become a reality?

Tesla sold 23,000 cars last year, and all of them ran off lithium-ion batteries imported by Panasonic. These are the same batteries that power your laptop, tablet, and smartphone, among other home electronics, and they’re assembled into massive battery banks. So yes, there is an obvious market for mass-producing lithium-ion batteries. However, the concern is over the electric vehicle part of the Gigafactory business plan.

Specifically, is there really a market for 500,000 electric vehicles per year at current costs? Probably not. Yet with the Gigafactory in place and producing everything at one site, according to a presentation to investors, prices could be lowered by as much as 30%. And the plan is to keep as much of the manufacturing under one roof, in the gigafactory, as much as possible. Additionally, battery recycling would take place at the gigafactory site too, further driving down costs. Even so, electric vehicle sales have been slow to catch fire, and competitive vehicles on the horizon could steal market share from Tesla.

Still, there are massive technical challenges at hand here and the Gigafactory has a price tag of around $5 billion to build. This factory has produce skepticism from some of Tesla’s partners like Panasonic, and it’s not a cheap project, but a project. Then again, this is coming from the man behind Space X, the company that is now delivering supplies to the International Space Station because NASA has funding issues.

I am sold on Elon Musk, but what do you think? Will the Gigafactory ever see the light of day here in the U.S.? Sound off in the comments below.

Source: Green Car Reports

About the Author

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor's Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master's Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison
  • MrKevinSD

    People were skeptical of Tesla in the beginning. I remember watching Revenge of The Electric Car a while back when someone said that the model S was “Vapor-Ware” How’d that prediction pan out? You’ll always have nay-sayers. Most of them are just shorting TSLA stock…

    • jeffhre

      I ‘member seeing the Roadster years before that. It was deemed the most vaporous of vaporware by many “experts.” (See TTAC: Tesla Deathwatch for example, LOL, now discontinued!)

  • Toes sometimes Wiggletoes.

    I just need ultracapacitors and fuel cell range extender. Cellulosic plants are main stream now as KBR will design one for your site in about a year then reform that and inject the hydrogen directly into the natural gas distribution system for renewable hydrogen and the hydrogen economy is simply on. No 1000 lb battery to cart around.

    • Burnerjack

      I may be wrong, but automotive is an exercise in packaging to say the least. Capacitors, ultra or not are low energy density beasts. Maybe using them as a dis/charge buffer to/from the battery is feasible but I seriously doubt they could ever be used as a true energy storage device in this arena.
      GM once proposed an architecture called the “skateboard”. A huge wafer battery surrounded by the floorpan with pancake hub motors. Pretty similar to Tesla’s. What would be beneficial would be a standard foot print so one battery would fit many cars of the same size class regardless of manufacturer. Just my $0.02.

  • No one of importance

    The question is: Will Lithium air (Volkswagen?) or lithium sulfur make it to market in the near future to a large lithium ion plant a bad investment?

    • J_JamesM

      That’s what I was wondering- how easily can these gigafactories be reconfigured to incorporate new tech?


    Just build it. Will new tech surplant it? certainly. When? We have been waiting for a better battery for what 100 years? Ferdinan Porche used lead acid to push his first in-wheel electric motor car back in 1898. Lithium is an improvement.
    The next great thing will come along———-When?
    What you are forgetting: “The perfect is the enemy of the good”.
    The perfect would be cold fusion in a jar. None of you are going to live long enough to see that. So should electric cars wait for the perfect? Of course not. So to the nay sayers I say. BUGGER OFF!

  • jeffhre

    “Even so, electric vehicle sales have been slow to catch fire” …they have doubled each year since being introduced in 2010. How much faster constitutes fire?

  • Michael

    With a new generation of batteries on the horizon such as lithium-sulfur, lithium-graphene, won’t lithium-ion be obsolete in the near future? Maybe the gigafactory could be made flexible enough to switch to making the new types of batteries to adapt to changing technologies.