Mass production of lithium-ion batteries just kicked off at Tesla’s massive Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. The batteries are meant to be used in Tesla’s electric vehicles, with demand expected to outstrip the current lithium-ion battery production around the entire world.
There are already 400,000 pre-orders for Tesla’s Model S, so the kick-off will hopefully supply a much-needed component to many anxious customers. This is a modest beginning for a much larger expected demand for electric cars in the future. Tesla’s website explains,
“With a planned production rate of 500,000 cars per year in the latter half of this decade, Tesla alone will require today’s entire worldwide production of lithium ion batteries. The Tesla Gigafactory was born of necessity and will supply enough batteries to support our projected vehicle demand.”
Elon Musk, the brains behind of the company, plans to build lithium ion batteries cheaply by driving down the cost of kilowatt hours by at least 30 percent. He has partnered with Panasonic and other companies to meet demand.
The 2170 cells that began production this last week will be used in Tesla’s Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 energy products, in a Gigafactory that isn’t even completed yet.
It is planned to be completed in stages and by 2018, the Gigafactory is expected to churn out 35 GWh/year – nearly as much as the rest of the world’s entire battery production combined. The completed Gigafactory will cover 1.9 million square feet, making it the biggest building in the world.
The lithium-ion battery factory will also employ 6,500 people directly and create another 20,000-30,000 jobs in the surrounding area.
Since Musk doesn’t do anything small, though, a second Gigafactory is already planned for Europe, with the location to be announced.
You can see a helicopter’s view of the facility in progress (as of December 2016) here:
Image credit: Tesla.com