Top Gear South Africa
Building The Future The Gigafactory Image Credit: Top Gear South Africa
Building The Future The Gigafactory Image Credit: Top Gear South Africa

Building The Future The Gigafactory

When a facility is 5,000,000 square feet, the word “factory” just doesn’t do it justice...

Critical mass. That’s what Tesla needs to silence the naysayers who point to its massive cash-burn and fluctuating stock value and say the whole operation is a very stylish-looking YouTube drag race-friendly house of cards. And according to CEO Elon Musk, the magic number for Tesla is half a million. Once it can produce and sell 500,000 cars per year, it’ll eventually achieve profitability, be able to reinvest those margins into the next S,3, X and Y (see what they did there?) and go from being a thorn in the European mainstream’s side to a foot on their throat.

Stamping out half a million EVs a year creates its own problem. Musk admits this alone would swallow the globe’s entire current annual production of lithium-ion batteries. What it needs is a facility that can create power storage batteries – not cars – on an unprecedented scale. Enter the Gigafactory. Or more accurately, Gigafactory 1.

The first of these R75bn, five-million sq ft facilities has been under construction in Nevada since 2014, and will open next year. By bringing production of Tesla vehicle battery packs, plus Tesla’s domestic Powerwall and Powerpack home electricity storage batteries, under one huge roof, Tesla can streamline its operation, cutting costs by 30 percent and ramping up production. Outputting 50 GWh/year would equal the magic 500,000 cars. But the plant is sized for output three times that large…

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