Yesterday (Jan. 4) Tesla announced that its Gigafactory in Sparks, NV, began producing its new “2170 cell”, the battery cell that it will use in a variety of products from the Model 3 car to the Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 energy storage systems for homes. Now that the company is producing cells at the new factory, it said its cost for batteries will come down significantly.
Already, the current structure has a footprint of 1.9 million square feet, which houses 4.9 million square feet of operational space across several floors. And we are still less than 30 percent done. Once complete, we expect the Gigafactory to be the biggest building in the world.
The first batteries are being used in the company’s residential and commercial storage offerings and it will begin producing them for the Model 3 electric vehicles in the second quarter. This puts work at this Gigafactory ahead of work at Tesla’s other Gigafactory in Buffalo, NY. At that facility, Panasonic will make solar cells and solar devices for Tesla’s SolarCity arm.
The cells for the Powerwall and Powerpack batteries are being made by Panasonic and Tesla using Panasonic technology and designed by both companies. They’re dubbed 2170 for their size, 21 millimeters by 70 millimeters. The new cell, according to Tesla, was designed to offer the best performance for both its energy storage systems and its vehicles at the lowest production cost. Thousands of the lithium-ion cells will be packed together into the larger battery packs used in homes, cars and commercial installations.
While the batteries are already being built in the facility it's not yet completed. “Already, the current structure has a footprint of 1.9 million square feet, which houses 4.9 million square feet of operational space across several floors. And we are still less than 30 percent done. Once complete, we expect the Gigafactory to be the biggest building in the world,” Tesla said.
The factory, the company said, is being built in phases allowing it and its partners to manufacture in the completed parts of the factory. “Our phased approach also allows us to learn and continuously improve our construction and operational techniques as we continue to drive down the cost of energy storage,” Tesla explained. “By 2018, the Gigafactory will produce 35 GWh/year of lithium-ion battery cells, nearly as much as the rest of the entire world’s battery production combined.” Tesla said that the costs of the batteries will continue to come down as they increase automation and improve the design of the cells.
As production ramps up at the factory, Tesla said it and Panasonic will hire several thousand local employees in 2017, ramping up to 6,500 people when production at the plant is at capacity. It also said it will indirectly create between 20,000 to 30,000 additional jobs in the area.Tweet