Drone technology has given a man the awesome opportunity to snoop on the Tesla Gigafactory’s construction site from a great vantage point — above! Once nothing more than a set of metal bars, the Gigafactory is now starting to come together in a mountainous (but somewhat desolate) area in Nevada. Construction of the outer walls and roof has already progressed quite a bit.
This is relieving to people like me, who long anticipated the construction of this factory, which is expected to drive down battery prices and help not only Tesla produce its cheaper Model 3 car for the masses, but help the electric vehicle industry grow and increase the production scale of electric cars on the whole. If the Gigafactory decreases the industry’s battery prices as much as I think it can, electric car prices may come down considerably, making them a more attractive option for consumers.
To put that in perspective, a mid-sized electric economy car currently produced using conventional li-ion EV batteries would require a ~$10,320 battery pack (if it was 24 kWh, and the battery price was an average of $430/kWh), while Tesla reportedly pays $180/kW for battery cells, presumably making a 24 kWh battery pack from Tesla ~$5,600*. Tesla is aiming for a 30% cost reduction.
The Gigafactory aims to achieve the cost reductions mentioned via economies of scale. The factory will have an annual battery production capacity of 35 GWh (enough for ~500,000 electric car batteries). Elon Musk commented that the Tesla Gigafactory is bigger than the sum of all lithium-ion battery factories (in 2013). That is a spectacularly large factory, and an ambitious project, but where would the world be without ambition?
Tesla’s Gigafactory page said:
‘In cooperation with Panasonic and other strategic partners, the Gigafactory will produce batteries for significantly less cost using economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing process under one roof. We expect to drive down the per kilowatt hour (kWh) cost of our battery pack by more than 30 percent. The Gigafactory will also be powered by renewable energy sources, with the goal of achieving net zero energy.’
*Added “while Tesla reportedly pays $180/kW for battery cells, presumably making a 24 kWh battery pack from Tesla ~$5,600” thanks to commentary from Bob Wallace (below).