Inside Tesla's Gigafactory
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Inside the Gigafactory That Will Decide Tesla’s Fate
Elon Musk’s enormous, $5 billion factory is seriously ramping up production.
By Dana Hull | May 6, 2016

To get to Tesla’s Gigafactory, you drive east from Reno, Nevada, turn into a sprawling industrial center, and make a left on Electric Avenue. The high desert landscape dwarfs everything, even the vast white building with the red stripe along the top. As you reach the gate with the security guard, the breadth of Tesla’s ambitions becomes clear. Even the name itself suggests more to come: Gigafactory 1.

The lobby décor is classic Tesla: large windows, high ceilings, gleaming white floors, black leather chairs. One of the Powerwall home batteries made at the factory hangs like a piece of modern art. Guests receive hard hats, reflective vests, and safety glasses along with the complimentary bottled water and coffee.

The $5 billion Gigafactory was born of necessity. Tesla needs a hell of a lot of batteries, for both the forthcoming mass-market Model 3 sedan and the Tesla Energy product line. The timeline for getting those batteries made just became much shorter, too. On Wednesday, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk stunned investors by announcing a sped-up production schedule that calls for a half-million electric vehicles per year by 2018, not the previously stated goal of 2020. For a company that delivered just 50,658 vehicles in 2015, the ramp looks like a hockey stick.

Tesla has worked with Panasonic to collapse the supply chain and drive down costs. Battery production—all the way down to the cell level—will happen in one facility. Conference rooms are named after chemical elements that are key parts of the battery supply chain, including lithium, cobalt, nickel, aluminum, and silicon.


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