As part of the Tesla Model 3 production unveiling tonight, Tesla blew our minds with updates in the pre-event webcast. Updates came from across the Tesla manufacturing network live, including from within the Fremont factory itself and way out in Sparks, Nevada, at the Gigafactory. As part of the Gigafactory update, Tesla shared that when it was up and running at full capacity, the Gigafactory would produce more batteries than the rest of the world combined … by a factor of 2!
The update speaks to the work Tesla has done since announcing the Gigafactory and the impressive improvements Tesla has made in manufacturing density. Increasing the number of cells that can be churned out of the Gigafactory without the need for another full factory means less money gushing out of Tesla’s coffers to build walls, floors, and (boring, non-solar) rooftops to produce batteries.
When the Gigafactory was first announced, it was shared that it would be able to produce more batteries than the rest of the world could build at the time combined. To have that same news be true 4 years later would be impressive, as the rest of the world has continued to ramp up its battery production capacity. That would be a notable feat in and of itself, but to stay on pace with that and then blow the lid off by a factor of two takes it to a whole new level.
Beyond just being an amazing feat and a great use of capital, the news speaks to just how far ahead Tesla is compared to the rest of the automotive companies in the world (combined). If a massive company like Toyota wanted to produce as many electric vehicles as Tesla, it would first need to source batteries. It could go to every other battery company in the world and start building its own factories but it would still be years behind Tesla … assuming the rest of the battery capacity in the world were even for sale.
Battery production capacity is going to be the bottleneck and the huge balance on which the electrification of the automotive industry will pivot over the next few years. Global battery production capacity will scale up in a massive way, like the world has never seen before. Just as world gasoline prices fluctuate as global production and demand shift, so will global battery pricing. Companies that build their own battery production capacity like Tesla will be insulated from global fluctuations, whereas others will not.
Looking forward, Tesla has announced Gigafactory 2 just outside Buffalo, New York, where the factory formerly known as the SolarCity Gigafactory finds new life and likely a larger footprint as it takes on additional scope for Tesla production in addition to its existing solar panel and solar roof tile capacity.
Images by Genscape