Tesla Model 3: How the Gigafactory Produces ‘Finest Battery in the World’
Tesla is undertaking a painstaking process to produce the Model 3’s batteries, a new report revealed on Monday. The cells for the company’s cheapest electric vehicle are produced by Panasonic Energy in a secretive sector of the Nevada Gigafactory, a gargantuan building that currently stands at 5.4 million square feet but only covers 30 percent of its possible size. The high demand for the battery calls for speedy manufacturing, but its precision engineering requires numerous checks.
The lithium-ion batteries are described by electric vehicle expert Jack Rickard, in a 90-minute analysis video watched by Reno Gazette Journal, as “probably the finest battery in the world,” adding that “no one … has anything that can approach it.” Tesla’s closely-guarded secret means details are scarce, but the report reveals how Panasonic mixes special materials before coating a metallic sheet, which is then wound up into a cylinder before cutting to size. All workers wear special protective gear, and any hint of contamination leads Panasonic to ditching the cell altogether.
Panasonic’s precision is key for the Model 3, which entered production in July 2017 with a touted starting price of just $35,000. Tesla has a backlog of nearly half a million $1,000 reservations at the time, and it’s gradually ramped up production to reach 5,000 cars per week. The long-range version has a battery pack of 74 kilowatt-hours to travel 310 miles on a single charge, impressive considering the Model S 75D only offers an EPA-rated range of 259 miles.
Panasonic has contributed $1.6 billion to the $5 billion total for the Gigafacotyr’s construction, and it shows. The company operates 11 production lines, with plans to offer two more that will both offer double the output of older lines. This all goes toward producing three million cells per day for the Model 3, which requires 4,000 cells per car. The efficient use of battery storage helps bring costs down: Tesla previously stated its prices have dropped below $190 per kilowatt-hour and plans to reach $100 by 2020, meaning the company is paying between $14,600 and $7,400 for the long-range pack.
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