Tesla switches on Gigafactory

Tesla has turned on the Gigafactory.

The Palo Alto-based company began “mass production” of its lithium-ion battery cells Wednesday at its plant outside Reno, Nevada. The company has already partnered with Panasonic Corp. to build the batteries, which will be used in Tesla’s energy-storage products and in its Model 3 sedan, the company said in a blog post.

The first cells will be used in Tesla’s stationary battery products, while production of the cells for the Model 3 will commence in the second quarter. The company anticipates that 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.”

“The Gigafactory is being built in phases so that Tesla, Panasonic, and other partners can begin manufacturing immediately inside the finished sections and continue to expand thereafter,” the company stated. “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.”

The Gigafactory has a footprint of 1.9 million square feet, with 4.9 million square feet of operational space across several floors, per the post.

“And we are still less than 30 percent done. Once complete, we expect the Gigafactory to be the biggest building in the world,” the company said. “With the Gigafactory online and ramping up production, our cost of battery cells will significantly decline due to increasing automation and process design to enhance yield, lowered capital investment per Wh of production, the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing processes under one roof, and economies of scale.”

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