Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada is solidly on track to achieve a battery production volume of 35 GWh per year (annualized run rate) by the end of 2018. This is two years ahead of the original 2020 target date for achieving these volumes.
Whilst Tesla is often criticized for slipping on its targets, let’s take a moment to recognize the remarkable Gigafactory volume achievement.
Where’s My Model 3?
With the obvious advantages of EVs being increasingly recognized by consumers, many folks are getting impatient for affordable EVs to arrive in volume. On the other side of the fence, commentators and incumbents across the automotive and fossil fuel industries, along with their lapdogs in the media, are dishing out daily disdain and skepticism upon the disruptive notions of electrifying transport and accelerating the move towards sustainable energy.
From both sides, Tesla, the world’s leading producer of EVs, is subject to heavy scrutiny of all of its plans and timelines. Even whilst folks queue around the block to get in line for an unseen car, they wonder and get impatient when it takes longer to arrive than they’d hoped.
The Model 3 was infamously 6 months delayed in reaching its 5,000 units per week production volume target, and the company came in for much criticism from all quarters. Most of us forgot that achieving even this interim volume target has put Tesla’s Model 3 at well over double the next best selling EV (the Nissan Leaf). In fact, even while the Model 3 is being produced and delivered at a volume that makes it the 5th best selling car in the US in terms of monthly unit sales, much attention is focused on possible remaining Tesla production challenges.
The habitually optimistic projections of Tesla have come to be taken with a pinch of salt by experienced EV watchers, and it is often joked that the company’s stated timelines need conversion from “Elon time” into the time scales that most of us live in.
Bucking the Trend
Tesla’s Gigafactory progress significantly bucks this trend. When the Gigafactory was first announced in early 2014, the plan was to hit 35 GWh of battery production in 2020. We covered the story extensively at that time, and saw Tesla and Panasonic formally sign onto the joint plan in July of 2014.
Related to bringing forward the timeline for the Model 3’s production in response to its massive and unexpected demand, at the start of 2017, Tesla announced an ambitious accelerated Gigafactory timeline. It brought the 35 GWh goal forward to the end of 2018. Given the focus on production delays of the Model 3 itself during the past couple of years, many of us (myself included) assumed that the seemingly over-ambitious Gigafactory production targets were likewise slipping.
But a couple of months ago (July 2018), news emerged that the accelerated Gigafactory production targets were indeed within reach by the Tesla–Panasonic partnership. Then, just last week, Zach covered the latest updates from Yoshio Ito, head of Panasonic’s automotive business. The news was of the further bringing forward the July plan, to even more quickly add 3 new production lines that were previously slated for “the the end of the year .” This further advance means that the lines will be installed and operating well before the end of the year, thus giving real credence to the 35 GWh run rate being achievable by the end of 2018.
It’s worth pausing to celebrate this rare but strong example of Tesla being two full years ahead of schedule on the timeline it originally set out for the Gigafactory back in 2014. From an initial 2020 target, we now find the 35 GWh annualized production volume goal looks set to be achieved by the end of 2018. That’s 4 years to reach a goal that was initially planned to require 6 years.
Tesla and Elon Musk have come in for a lot of flack recently, but the progress on the ground at the Gigafactory should serve to remind us that — away from the negative press and frequent skepticism about the revolutionary company’s broader mission — Tesla is achieving remarkable goals to accelerate the move towards sustainable transportation and energy.