Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy through increasingly affordable electric vehicles in addition to renewable energy generation and storage. At the heart of these products are batteries. Starting this week at the Gigafactory in Nevada, Tesla and Panasonic begin mass production of lithium-ion battery cells, which will be used in Tesla’s energy storage products and Model 3 vehicle.
The high performance cylindrical “2170 cell” was jointly designed and engineered by Tesla and Panasonic to offer the best performance at the lowest production cost in an optimal form factor for both electric vehicles and energy products.
Production of 2170 cells for qualification started in December and now production begins on cells that will be used in Tesla’s Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 energy products. Model 3 cell production will follow in Q2 and by 2018, the Gigafactory will produce 35 GWh/year of lithium-ion battery cells, nearly as much as the rest of the entire world’s battery production combined.
The Gigafactory is being built in phases so that Tesla, Panasonic and other partners can begin manufacturing immediately inside the finished sections and continue to expand thereafter. This phased approach also allows the companies to learn and continuously improve construction and operational techniques as they continue to drive down the cost of energy storage. The current structure has a footprint of 1.9 million square feet, which houses 4.9 million square feet of operational space across several floors. And the companies are less than 30% done. Once complete, the Gigafactory is expected to be the biggest building in the world.
In 2017 alone, Tesla and Panasonic will hire several thousand local employees, and at peak production, the Gigafactory will directly employ 6,500 people and indirectly create between 20,000 to 30,000 additional jobs in the surrounding regions.
The two companies are also involved with a second potential gigafactory in Buffalo, New York, which will manufacture PV cells and modules. These high-efficiency PV cells and modules will be used to produce solar panels and solar roof products. When production of the solar roof begins, Tesla will also incorporate Panasonic’s cells into the many kinds of solar glass tile roofs that Tesla will be manufacturing. All of these solar products will work seamlessly with Tesla’s energy storage products, Powerwall and Powerpack. Production of the first PV modules will begin in summer 2017, and will ramp to 1 GW of module production by 2019. As part of the agreement, Panasonic will cover required capital costs in Buffalo, and Tesla is making a long-term purchase commitment from Panasonic.
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