Tesla officially opened the doors to its gigafactory earlier in the week giving the world’s media a look into what will become the largest lithium ion battery factory in the world.
Construction of the gigafactory commenced just over two years ago and as it stands, only about 14 per cent of the factory is complete. When finished, it will be almost 10 million square feet in size, making it one of the largest buildings ever constructed and in the coming three to four years, Elon Musk says it could employ up to 10,000 people.
The most immediate goal of the gigafactory is to begin producing batteries for the firm’s entry-level Model 3 sedan. With over 400,000 pre-orders placed, the automaker is working furiously to begin battery production by the end of the year.
Tesla’s key partner for the factory, Panasonic, is investing some $1.6 billion into the facility and handling the importation of batteries from Japan for use in Tesla’s Powerwall business. When the gigafactory is complete, about one third of battery production will be catered for by the Powerwall arm but in the future, it could expand to around half of all battery output.
By the second quarter of next year, Musk says that 31 per cent of the factory will be complete and that by 2018, the facility will produce 35 gigawatt hours of batteries, almost enough to power New York City for an entire year. If needed, output could rise to 150 gigawatt hours annually.