Tesla hasn’t even shipped the first production vehicle from the first phase of construction at Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai, China, but it’s already breaking ground on the second phase of construction next door, according to a new report from gigafisherman Chao Zhou.
GF3 continues piling, just talked to some security guys, they all admitted the second phase of gigafactory 3 project has already started.
— Chao Zhou 🧢 🔥🔥🔥 (@realChaoZhou) September 9, 2019
Zhou posted a new video that shows the first phase of the new Shanghai Gigafactory in the background with an entire army of new construction equipment starting to break ground. Dirt movers are visible as they begin to clear debris in preparation for the foundation, flanked by a handful of pile drivers getting ready to pound more concrete pilings into the mud ahead of the foundation work.
In the update, Zhou confirmed that he spoke with security guards at the new facility and confirmed that the work is indeed part of the second phase of the Gigafactory project. The new construction comes as quite a surprise, as Tesla has not even started producing vehicles in the first phase building, where equipment is still being installed and validated in preparation for the start of production in the coming weeks.
Even more impressive, Tesla is pushing to maintain the rigorous pace it achieved in the first phase, with construction of the second phase allegedly scheduled to continue 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Drone footage from Jason Yang (h/t Teslarati) provides an even more expansive view of the new construction, and reveals that compared to the first phase of construction, the current footprint of the new construction is very small. This raises the question: what will it be used for?
Ideas abound, so let’s throw a few into the hat, just for fun.
Energy storage: Tesla not only produces vehicles that are cleaner than those being replaced. It aspires to build the Tesla-branded vehicles, batteries, solar products, and energy storage devices in the most responsible, sustainable way possible. Adding onsite energy storage is a natural precursor to a rooftop solar installation that is sure to follow construction at Gigafactory 3.
We are already seeing whispers of a rooftop solar system at Gigafactory 1, so doing the same at GF3 would be a natural progression. Tesla’s new Megapacks can store up to 3 MWh of storage, with inverters capable of pushing out 1.5 MW of power at a time. Installing a bank of Megapacks at the new Gigafactory would be a fantastic way for Tesla to showcase its latest energy storage product. Arguing against this is a nice wide concrete pad to the west of the new construction that lines up with the current location of the utility feed-ins at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.
Model Y Production: Model 3 production is slated to start this year, with Model Y production following in 2020. With the two cars sharing ~75% of their parts, the majority of the two vehicles could be built in the more urgent phase one of Gigafactory construction, with just one or two new general assembly lines required for Model Y pushed into the new expansion. Standing up the building for phase one took fewer than 5 months, so starting construction on capacity needed for Model Y today would put Tesla on track to have the Model Y go into production in early 2020.
Battery Module/Pack Assembly: Tesla has already come out that it will be procuring battery cells for Gigafactory 3 from the open market. It has already locked in a contract to do so from LG Chem and is allegedly in talks with CATL as a second supplier. Those incoming battery cells become a raw material for Tesla that then need to be assembled into modules that can then be fed into Tesla Energy products or battery packs for Tesla’s vehicles. That work could be done in the new building, but this is something Tesla likely knew at the outset, so it seems unlikely that it would come as a bolt-on to the factory proper this late in the game.
Mystery abounds, but what we do know is that Tesla is indeed moving forward with a new phase of construction adjacent to the finished first phase of Gigafactory 3. Let us know what you think Tesla is doing with it in the comments below.