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Published on April 14th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Tesla’s Gigafactory Providing More “American-Made” Cars Than Ford

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April 14th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Gas2.

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Tesla’s proposed Gigafactory has four states vying for multi-billion dollar project, and it could also make the Tesla Model S America’s most American car. If the proposed Gigafactory ends up sourcing raw materials from the surrounding area, as Tesla is proposing, about 90% of the content of the Model S could end up being American made. How you gonna hate on that?

The window sticker on the Tesla Model S claims the electric sedan has about 55% American/Canadian-made content, enough to qualify it as a domestic car. This infographic labels some of Tesla’s outside suppliers, including Germany’s Bosch and Italy’s Brembo, as outside suppliers of parts. The biggest foreign-made part, however, is Tesla’s battery pack, which uses Panasonic laptop batteries that are “assembled” into larger battery packs at Tesla’s California factory.

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The Gigafactory could boost the American-made content right up to 90% by building the batteries in their entirety in America. Right now Texas, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico are all courting Elon Musk in a bid to bring as many as a billion dollars and some 6,500 jobs to a state-of-the-art battery facility. Though Tesla’s battery partner Panasonic has remained skeptical of the plan, there’s a lot of public and private support for the idea.

With 90% American-made content, the Tesla Model S would beat even the Ford F-150, which counts just 75% of its parts as coming from domestic suppliers. Ford has been keen on moving production back to America, but with the switch to aluminum, the American-made content could swing either way. While the F-150 tops Cars.com American content list, and it’s been the best-selling vehicle in American for 32 years straight, an upstart electric sedanc ould unseat it.

If Tesla’s ambitions for building 500,000 batteries annually out of its Gigafactory every year come true, could we see a new best-selling vehicle in America?

Source: Quartz

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • Rainer

    Go Tesla! Bringing America back into the automotive game.

  • Wayne Williamson

    The article probably should be fixed from saying 500k batteries a year to saying 500k battery packs a year. If they get the price right(and I mean low), they could probably build at least 10 more of these plants. ie, battery backups in every house, distributed grid, etc, etc….

    • taliz

      That is probably the long term plan.
      I another decade or so we’ll probably see a lot of homes that have solar panels charging their home battery pack, as well as their EV.

  • Phil McCracken

    Well, Elon Musk is proving to be the Henry Ford of this century.

    • Ronald Brakels

      I hope you only mean in the producing lots of cars sense.

  • sault

    The difference is that the Model S uses 100% homegrown electricity while vehicles like the F-150 guzzle gas that still comes substantially from imported oil, locking us into a bigger trade deficit.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You might not want to go too far with the imported fuel bit. The US is getting pretty self-sufficient when it comes to oil.

      Not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Just sayin’….

      • RobS

        Ironically what’s the thing most likely to bring the US to 100% oil self sufficiency? A shift of a portion of oil demand to electricity by adoption of EVs.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Lot of new oil coming out of North Dakota and Texas from what I hear.

          Lots of what is imported gets refined and sold out as product.

      • Benjamin Nead

        Correct, Bob. This is what’s getting lost today whenever the subject of “dependency on foreign oil” comes up.’ If folks haven’t really been following the news all that closely over the past few years, they might not even realize that the US now produces so much oil – via extraction from tar sands, etc – that this nation is now an oil exporter!

        The bad news there, of course is that we’re STILL burning oil and that the tar sands stuff requires extra refining that makes it a dirtier product (ie: more energy intensive) than the once-readily-available light crude.

        So . . . let’s please retire the old and obsolete “dependency on foreign oil” rubric and get up to date, folks. Instead, we need to be insisting that we reduce or eliminate our “dependency on ALL oil . . . PERIOD!”

        • Ronald Brakels

          Let’s see, the US consumes about 18 million barrels of oil a day and produces 8 million barrels of oil a day, so I think there’s a ways to go before the US is a net exporter.

        • Harald

          It’s pretty quick and easy to google us oil imports exports…
          You’ll see that you guys still have a loooong way to go.
          http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_wkly_dc_nus-z00_mbblpd_w.htm
          So maybe wait a little longer before making the old “dependency on foreign oil” obsolete.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We aren’t to “obsolete”, but we’re far less dependent.

            For the week of 5/2/14 (your link) we imported 30% of what we consumed. Imports are half what they were ten years ago.

            Of course the goal is to become a non-importing country by cutting our use so that we don’t even use what we could produce.

      • jeffhre

        Yep, up to 50% American sourced now. A huge change.

      • James

        But the problem isn’t oil itself, it’s access to the cheaper oil – oil that has restructured the distribution of goods, oil that is cheap enough to be smarter to ship it from abroad than to waste money drilling it here. Why would you have iPhones made in the US, when it’s cheaper to have them made in China? Same with oil. Look at the great lengths and risks deepwater horizon was going through to drill oil locally. Look at the tar sands up north. Both take a higher energy input in order to extract the same amount of oil, unlike the easy stuff in Saudi Arabia. Maybe the easy oil access has reached a peak. If you have to use more energy to get the same amount of oil, your net output is less and the price of petrol will be MUCH higher.

        So we may be more “self-sufficient” as a result, but it could have a lot to do with an anticipated threat to the PetroDollar and reaching a peak in the cheaper oil from the foreign sources. I don’t know for sure, but we don’t just suddenly start drilling here for no reason.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Two things seem to have kicked our production into gear. Fracking has opened up trapped oil. And the world price of oil is now high enough to allow getting oil from shale and tar sands.

          Actually the stuff we’re pulling out of the ground in the US is probably of adequate volume and at a price where we are not likely to see big spikes in oil prices for a while.

          (No value judgments. Just facts as I know them.)

    • James

      Although we have a trade deficit in oil, it hasn’t necessarily a bad thing for
      a sector in which another country can extract it cheaper than we can here. It’s the concept
      of division of labor. It’s so much cheaper to extract foreign oil, so it wouldn’t make sense economically to drill it here for higher cost, especially since our entire economy has been restructured and reaped the benefits of cheap foreign oil. That oil we have here? Not cheap. It takes more energy input to get the same output.

      Plus, because the US dollar is the reserve
      currency of the world, that requires more of our dollars to HAVE to
      leave U.S. shores. We can’t have the world reserve currency without sending A LOT of our currency to other countries. That can only occur with a trade deficit. Other
      nations can’t have trade surpluses without the dollar having a deficit.

      If we can make energy more efficient locally, then that would be fantastic. The question is will it be more efficient in the net output of energy?

      • Bob_Wallace

        The price of oil is going to be set at the cost of the last barrel needed to meet demand.

        If some supplier gets $100 for the last barrel no other supplier is going to sell for less. Those with cheap oil are going to make fortunes.

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