Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel regularly talk about how they are constantly on the lookout for the next big thing in energy storage. To date, the 2170 cells that go into Tesla’s current energy storage products and the Model 3 appear to be the best of breed. That’s a conditional statement that necessarily balances availability of raw materials, battery cost, energy density, power density, and a number of other factors, but it is clear that Tesla is the world’s leader in lithium-ion battery production for electric cars in a number of measurable ways.
In the Tesla annual shareholder meeting this week, Elon added some color to just how many batteries Tesla produces, noting that when Model 3 achieves a 5,000 car/week production rate, Tesla will ship more battery capacity than all other global EV shipments combined.
Model 3 alone will represent 43% of the world’s electric vehicle battery capacity shipments, singlehandedly representing more battery capacity shipped than all other non-Tesla EVs combined. Tesla is really putting the “Giga” in Gigafactory now.
Tesla Model S and X make up another sizable chunk, at 16% of estimated global EV battery capacity shipments.
It’s worth noting that this comparison does not address plug-in hybrids, which still represent a significant piece of plug-in vehicle sales, but it nonetheless highlights just how massive Tesla’s current production is relative to every other automotive company on the planet … combined.
As Model 3 exclusively uses new 2170 lithium-ion cells made by Tesla and Panasonic at Gigafactory 1, the chart also highlights that the Gigafactory is expected to produced more batteries for pure EVs than every other EV battery manufacturer in the world.
Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, Nevada, will still be under construction for another 4 or 5 years. Once complete, Elon Musk estimates it will be twice the size of any other building in the world. It currently takes approximately 2 hours to walk through it, so it will presumably take approximately 6 hours to walk through the whole thing once completed — assuming you are not stopping much to look at anything, talk, eat, or rest your body.
With so much interest in the electrification of transportation, the competition could change by then, but it this serves to highlight just how big Tesla’s dreams are.
Tesla confirmed in the recent investor call that it will build another Gigafactory in Shanghai, confirming numerous prior reports from a variety of sources over the last two years. Elon shared that the specific location of the new Chinese Gigafactory should be confirmed by the end of next month, with another Gigafactory being announced somewhere by the end of this year for somewhere in Europe.
What’s even more mind boggling than where Tesla will be next quarter is the longer term outlook on the Silicon Valley company. Elon shared that he expects Tesla will have 10–12 Gigafactories sprinkled around the world to meet customer demand eventually. If the first Gigafactory alone — running at just a fraction of it’s final capacity — is already dwarfing the rest of the competition, what does that mean when Gigafactory 1 is complete? What about Gigafactory 3, Gigafactory 5, Gigafactory 7?
There don’t appear to be any near-term limits on the customer demand side, with customers mostly just cancelling reservations because Tesla simply can’t keep up on the production side. It’s seemingly a race where the only real competitor for Tesla is … itself. And, by all measures, Tesla is in a flat out sprint to the next shiny object on the horizon. With Tesla Model Y, Tesla Semi, Tesla Roadster 2.0, and a Tesla pickup truck all already on the drawing board, Tesla seems to be on track for world domination.