Musk Reads: Gigafactory 4 location revealed

Gigafactory 4 gets the green light; the Model 3 wins another award; and this is what fans want from the Pickup Truck.

Gigafactory 4 gets the green light; the Model 3 wins another award; and this is what fans want from the Pickup Truck. It’s Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #121.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Musk quote of the week

“🖤♥️💛 GIGA BERLIN 💛♥️🖤”

Tesla Gigafactory

Gigafactory 4 is official. Tesla’s European facility will be built in Berlin, Musk revealed at Auto Bild’s Golden Steering Wheel Awards on Tuesday.

The Berlin factory joins a growing list of Tesla facilities:

  • The Tesla factory in Fremont that produces Model S and X and assembles Model 3.
  • Gigafactory 1 in the Nevada desert, which makes drivetrains for the Model 3 and produces battery cells.
  • Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York, which focuses on solar products.
  • Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai, which will build entry-level Model 3 and Model Y vehicles for the Chinese market. The first Model 3s, emblazoned with the translation of Tesla’s name as “特斯拉,” have started rolling out.

The Berlin factory will make batteries, powertrains, and vehicles starting with the Model Y. The facility will be built in the Berlin area, near the new airport. This was met with laughs from the audience, as the chronically delayed airport has been dubbed a “national trauma” by one expert. Initially expected to open in 2012 at a budget of €2 billion ($2.21 billion), the airport is now set to open in 2020 at a budget of €6 billion ($6.62 billion). Alongside the factory, Tesla will build an engineering and design center in Berlin. Musk did not specify an opening date, but during the second-quarter 2019 conference call, he said a European Gigafactory would be operational by the end of 2021.

More tidbits from the appearance:

  • Musk joked that, with autonomous driving, the steering wheel could disappear and make the whole award something of a relic. In the future, he suggested the wheel would be replaced by “a hologram or something … for the A.I. that’s driving the car.”
  • Musk enjoys a good relationship with Volkswagen board chairman Herbert Diess. Musk said the two “party like rockstars,” while Diess says the pair “share a vision” for the future of mobility.
  • “I don’t think Germany is that far behind” in electric vehicles, Musk said. He did note that, when Tesla first started out, both himself and the wider industry considered them “fools” for taking on unproven technology.
  • Musk’s daily driver is usually a Model S, but he uses a Model X to transport his kids around. He also owns a Ford Model T and a 1967 Series 1 Jaguar E-Type.
  • Off-stage, Musk told Auto Express that “Brexit [uncertainty] made it too risky to put a Gigafactory in the UK.”

With the European Gigafactory, Tesla takes another step closer to putting a Gigafactory on every continent to drive prices down further.

In other Tesla news…

During Auto Bild’s Golden Steering Wheel Awards on Tuesday, Musk collected the award for best midsize car for the Model 3, receiving praise for its competitive price.

That wasn’t the only bit of good news for Tesla this week. The company now produces the most efficient electric car, according to the EPA. The 2020 Tesla Model 3 in a Standard Range Plus configuration beat out the Hyundai Ioniq with combined efficiency of 141 MPGe and estimated $450 annual fuel cost. Read more.

What’s next for Tesla: Tesla is expected to unveil its Pickup Truck on November 21 in Los Angeles near SpaceX’s rocket factory.

Musk Reads mailroom

Gordon Peterson writes:

“New Zealand (5 million-plus population) has only recently been able to buy Tesla [Model] 3. It sucks having to be so patient.

What is the chance we can get the Ute [Pickup Truck] down under a lot sooner than the Tesla 3 has taken to arrive?

NZ drivers buy utes with real enthusiasm, in comparatively large numbers and use them for a variety of purposes.”

Unfortunately, you may have to wait a while. Tesla waited two years before rolling out the Model 3 to right-hand drive markets, which meant that drivers in places like the UK and Australia only started receiving their cars this summer. Some of these fans had held a reservation for three years!

As Tesla puts the finishing touches on its Shanghai factory and starts work on a Berlin factory, perhaps the company will be able to slim down the wait times through sheer increased output.

G. Gagermeier writes:

“I live in Montana. I would love to own a Tesla pickup!

Two questions:

Can it be accessorized with grille guard, for problems with deer? What does the accessory list look like? Heated steering wheel? Heaters and defrosters?

How will it handle the cold weather and slick roads?

Thank you for your insights!”

Hopefully questions like these will be answered after the November 21 reveal. In terms of what we know so far, Musk claimed in June 2018 that it will feature “crazy” torque and dual-motor all-wheel drive. It will also come with a suspension that dynamically adjusts for load. As for extras, like a heated steering wheel, it may depend on whether Tesla positions the car as a premium choice like the Model S and X (which pack heated wheels) or an entry-level choice like the 3 (which lacks them).

Got any comments or queries? Don’t forget to send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

Video of the week

Chinese Tesla Model 3 arrives.

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The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #121, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

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