It’s official: Tesla Gigafactory is now the largest annual producer of battery power in the automotive world, with a run rate of approximately 20 gigawatt-hours. The staggering figure means the firm now produces more batteries in terms of kilowatt-hours than all other car makers combined. It’s a big milestone, and one that demonstrates the success of CEO Elon Musk’s project to build a giant factory in the Nevada desert.
The Gigafactory, first announced in September 2014, is critical to Tesla’s mission to bring electric cars to the world. The factory is only 30 percent complete, but already covers 4.9 million square feet of operational space and has set a staggering production rate. Tesla’s record is based on capacity rather than the actual number of batteries, which do rank notably larger than many other car makers. The Tesla Model S, for example, is available with a 100 kWh battery pack, while the Nissan Leaf comes with a 40 kWh battery.
When complete, the Gigafactory is expected to be the largest building in the world, entirely powered by renewable energy and reaching a battery production rate of 35 gigawatt-hours per year, where one gigawatt-hour is enough energy to supply one billion watts for one hour. Tesla claims it’s almost as much as the world’s total current battery production combined, but CATL is building a larger plant in China with a 50 gigawatt-hour capacity. Benchmark Mineral Intelligence has tracked the construction of 15 battery plants of similar size to the Gigafactory, with total production of 230 gigawatt-hours that’s enough to make 3.5 million electric cars.
The Gigafactory is going to boost capacity even further before the end of the year. Hirokazu Umeda, chief financial officer of Tesla’s battery partner Panasonic, said last month that “we are ramping up a new (battery production) line now and expect the business to contribute not just to our revenue but also to our profit from the second half (starting in October).” The Gigafactory is expected to receive three new production lines on top of its existing 10 for a 30 percent boost in production.
All eyes are on Tesla’s next financial report, set for three months’ time, when the company should give investors a clearer picture of how work at the Gigafactory is progressing.