What is a Gigafactory?
It can be hard to keep up with Elon Musk. The entrepreneur is often announcing new massive undertakings.
For example, Tesla is the car company he took over as CEO in 2008. He funded it, and Tesla is known as being the first successful line of mass-produced electric cars. The car manufacturing facilities for Tesla are at three different locations currently. Teslas are manufactured at one U.S. location, one in China and one in the Netherlands.
Then, outside of those car manufacturing facilities, there are also the Gigafactories that you may have heard Musk talking about. So what exactly is a Gigafactory?
What Is a Gigafactory?
Tesla outlines its mission as being driven by the desire to help the world transition to sustainable energy by making affordable electric vehicles and other energy products. Tesla has set a goal to produce 500,000 cars a year, and to do so, they would need the entire current supply of lithium-ion batteries that exists on the planet.
With that need was born the Tesla Gigafactory.
The Gigafactory currently produces Model 3 electric motors and battery packs. It also produces Powerwall and Powerpack, which are energy storage products.
The first Gigafactory started being built in 2014 in Nevada.
The name comes from the word “Giga.” A Giga is the unit of measurement for billions.
The original Gigafactory is still technically under construction. It currently spans more than 1.9 million square feet, and that, according to Tesla only puts it at around 30% done.
The Giga Nevada factory will, when it’s done based on current plans, have the biggest footprint of any building in the world.
The Giga Nevada factory is at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. Panasonic partnered with Tesla on the Gigafactory Nevada.
The Gigafactory is always open and currently is estimated to have around 7,000 employees. Most of the process, even so, is automated.
Giga New York
There’s a Gigafactory in New York, which is a photovoltaic cell factory leased by SolarCity, a subsidiary of Tesla. The factory is actually owned by the state of New York.
The Giga New York factory was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and employment decreased there last year as a result.
In 2017, the New York factory started producing solar cells and modules for solar panels.
Tesla is working on a Gigafactory 3, also known as Giga Shanghai. The facility is where the final assembly of the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model Y is done. The hope is that production there will be able to scale up to 250,000 electric vehicles a year.
Shanghai agreed to the plans to build the facility in 2018, and construction began at the end of that year.
The current Gigafactory in Shanghai is 9.3 million square feet. It’s the newest Tesla factory that’s currently operational.
The Tesla company also seems to be looking for designers in China so that they could create vehicles specifically for the country.
It was announced in 2019 by Elon Musk that Tesla would be starting construction on Giga Berlin. Giga Berlin is located outside of central Berlin, and the plan is that it will be the most advanced high-volume EV production plan anywhere in the world.
Tesla has said they’ll initially start with Model Y production there and then work on an original design for markets outside of Germany.
The goal for that location is to eventually be able to produce 500,000 vehicles a year.
There have been a number of roadblocks at Giga Berlin in the past few years.
For example, the water was turned off at the facility because they didn’t pay their bill, and there was a fight between a German union and Tesla over the workers at Giga Berlin.
Tesla had to stop building Gigafactory Berlin because they didn’t pay a $100 million deposit at one point too.
Finally, the fifth Gigafactory was announced for Texas. It’s currently under construction in Austin. The facility has been under construction since July 2020, and Tesla aims to have it running by the end of this year.
The factory will be the main plant location for the Tesla Cybertruck and Tesla Semi. It may also be a production facility for Model 3 and Model Y vehicles for the eastern U.S.
Tesla looked at eight states as their potential Giga factory locations between 2019 and 2020 before deciding on Texas.
Cities included on the shortlist were Nashville and Tulsa, along with Austin.
The Texas Gigafactory received around $50 million in tax incentives from the state of Texas at the time construction began.