Published on September 12th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


Tesla Gigafactory Is HUGE (2 Graphics Add Perspective)

September 12th, 2014 by  

EV Obsession.

Most of us are content to simply know that the Tesla Gigafactory is going to be big… huge, even. How huge? It hadn’t crossed my mind to even put it in perspective. No matter how big it is, the size is going to be fairly incomprehensible to me.

However, everything is better with a bit of perspective, and a Tesla investor and redditor recently decided to add a bit of perspective with a graphic comparing the Gigafactory to a bunch of large towers an such. With feedback from members of the reddit community, he then had a better idea for how to put the Gigafactory into perspective, so he created another graphic comparing it to other large things… and a banana. Both graphics are below (sources here and here, respectively).

How Big is the Tesla Gigafactory Tesla Gigafactory How Big

If you want to join in the reddit discussions, they are here and here. Though, be forewarned: a lot of them are jokes, and a lot of them ones in the second link are jokes about the banana in the graphic… or other bananas.

As far as the methodology, the creator of these, jonjiv shared the following:


So we know from various sources that:

With such huge ranges, it’s hard to nail down the what actual dimensions of the factory will be, but I didn’t want to make multiple images. So what is pictured could be either a 5M sq ft factory with one floor or a 10M sq ft factory with two floors. I assumed a 1:2.5 dimension ratio which is shown in the recent renderings.

I got a 3535 ft (1077 m) x 1414 ft (431 m) footprint using the knowns above. I fudged the length in the graphic a little to 1100 m to account for the beveled corners.

The graphic is derivative of this one I found on Wikipedia, hence the “metres,” even though I’m American 🙂

Thanks to jonjiv!

Originally published on EV Obsession. Reproduced with permission.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Josh King

    The banana really helped me put this in perspective, thanks!

  • Bob_Wallace

    How about a comparison with some of other man made energy projects?

    Kemmerer mine’s “Big Pit”–one of three at the complex–was begun in 1971 and is the largest open pit coal mine in the United States. It measures 5,000 feet long, 4,000 feet wide and 1,000 feet deep

    Tesla battery factory.
    5,500,000-square-feet 1-2 stories

    Big Pit.
    20,000,000-square feet ~100 stories

    Elon, what a wimp.

  • Jouni Valkonen

    Why this is compared to Boeing’s facility? Tesla’s Fremont car factory is 100 000 m² larger than Boeing’s facility. With 510 000 m² foot-print, Tesla’s Fremont factory is the second largest building in the world. And Boeing’s Everet facility is only the third largest.

    Curiously, the tulip boom has not gone anywhere as the largest building in the world is a flower shop in Netherlands!

    • Kevin Lu

      The boeing is larger than Tesla in terms of volume, but Tesla have a larger foot print

  • Sam Rai

    the entire roof of the factory will be covered with solar panels. I’m betting it’s gonna be pretty shiny to look at from space

    • Bob_Wallace

      Large pond.

    • Jouni Valkonen

      the point of solar panels is to absorb as much visible light as possible.

    • Wayne Williamson

      This was my understanding also. Yesterday I read part of the press release and it states that Tesla agrees to buy x amount of electricity per year from the local utility. Did anyone else see this….

  • JamesWimberley

    The height graphic makes no sense. It’s untuftey. My coinage: tuftey, used of a graphic data representation: smart, informative, worthy of Edward Tufte. Untuftey: the converse.

    • Kevin Lu

      In the graphic it is actually the length and width of the factory, not the height. The height is only 2 stories

  • Mark

    Why is it so big? What actually would be inside it that it needs all that space?

    I can imagine that trucks or trains would pull up, unload lithium, some robot machine would mould that into little battery shapes, they would then be combined into tesla car batteries by another robot then out the door. Could be done in a factory the size of a Target store?

    Simplistic yes but I am trying to understand what all the space and people would be needed for.

    • Johnny Le

      I think the factory will process all the raw materials as well. Elon has been talking to mining companies. The point is to eliminate as many middlemen as possible and the rest will be right inside the gigafactory.

      • Mark


      • David Stålström

        The factory will start with the processing of raw materials,
        of that create parts of batteries,
        of the parts create batteries,
        and of the batteries create battery packs.

        It is actually four factories under one roof just for the battery pack production.
        In addition you will have a “factory” for the recycling of old battery packs.

    • Mint

      They’re planning to produce 50GWh of battery packs per year. At 300 Wh/kg, that’s almost 500 tons/day of battery cell flow (plus everything needed to make packs, but I’ll ignore that for now). Let’s say there’s 10 major steps in manufacturing, and each takes 10 hours of processes (like cleaning, baking, etc). That means ~2000 tons of product in the pipeline.

      A lot of battery manufacturing involves thin films, eventually being rolled up into cells with electrolyte added. So think of a machine rolling out 250 strips of tape at once, 10 layers wide (say 5cm wide tape with 5cm space between parallel strips), and 25 layers stacked on top of one another. If the tape is 0.2mm thick, and 1g/cm3 density without electrolyte, such a configuration is only 2kg of product per m2. So if 1000 tons of the aforementioned pipeline (i.e. half of it) is in such a configuration, you need 500,000 m2 for these tape feeds, and a bunch of machinery around that. You also need lots of space around the machines for walking and servicing, and now you’re up to a couple million square meters. Then you have the rest of the pipeline.

      So 5-10 million square feet is quite reasonable, IMO.

      • Mark

        Thank you for that.

    • Jouni Valkonen

      Tesla’s car factory in California is as big if not bigger. Tesla’s car factory is the second largest building in the world by footprint.

  • Will E

    compare it with oil rigs and supertankers.
    gas pipe lines and devastated tarsand fields open coal mines.

    then you will see giga factory is small and we need more of them.
    but it is a good start.

    • Vensonata

      Yes, Will, how many gigafactories can fit in the craters of the Alberta oil tar sands?

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