back to article Elon Musk plans GIGAFACTORY to feed his thirsty Tesla motors

Tesla Motors is planning to announce the world's biggest battery plant for the US this week, a plant so big that chief exec Elon Musk is calling it the "Gigafactory". The electric car-maker has had ongoing problems with ramping up production of its Model S and X vehicles because of a lack of steady supply of batteries from its …

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  1. dazzzler

    Gearing up...?

    ......for the iCar?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gearing up...?

      Well, in my mind this makes the odds of an iCar go from 0.01% to 0.02%. It is still hugely unlikely, but this is the sort of thing that Apple would do if it was going to buy out Tesla and make an iCar.

      Making your own batteries from scratch in a factory you pay for but is operated by a company that really knows how to make batteries is like making your own sapphire from scratch in a factory you pay for but is operated by a company that really knows how to make sapphire.

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Danger Will Robinson

    Making batteries is a little more complicated than cars - and a lot less well understood.

    A lot of entrenched makers of Lithium batteries are entrenched makers because their product works, you change anything and it stops working, or occasionally burns your new Boeing to the ground.

    It's a lot like building a chip fab, it looks like it's all engineering but there is a lot of black magic - it works if we do this but we don't exactly know why.

    1. Return To Sender

      Re: Danger Will Robinson

      So partnering with existing entrenched makers is a good idea, no? This is about stability of supply (if I've got big cash in the plant, I get first dibs on the output) and presumably increasing supply. Seems sensible to me...

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Danger Will Robinson

        Partnering with instead of relying on a manufacturer gives Tesla more say in the product and the ability to address problems more directly. Also must be a good thing for wherever he is going to build it creating jobs and increasing the US's share of the world market. Also good for US lithium producers.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Danger Will Robinson

        Yes having Yakusa/Panasonic build/operate a plant and Tesla pay for it is a good idea.

        Deciding to build your own battery operation from scratch is trickier

        1. Kharkov
          Thumb Up

          Re: Danger Will Robinson

          One of the reasons that SpaceX is able to offer rockets much, much cheaper than say, ULA, is that Elon had SpaceX bring in-house all those processes that were large cost generators so that, once in-house, they could be controlled and costs lowered. They've had great success at that - $60 million to put approx 5 metric tonnes in LEO, as opposed to ULA's around $300 to $350 million dollars for the same service - and it makes great sense for Tesla to bring in-house such a critical element as batteries, which for electic cars are kind of important.

          No-one seriously denies that electric-powered methods of transportation are the wave of the future so I'd bet on Elon making the new battery factory work.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Danger Will Robinson

            Also, with Musk's history, there may well be challenges to the "we've always done it this way" manufacturers that lead to improvements in battery production.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Danger Will Robinson

      Fortunately Musk doesn't listen to people like you.

      Unfortunately, NASA does, which is why he's having to do all the original space R&D nowadays.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Danger Will Robinson

      Er, there's bugger all black magic in chip fabrication. If someone can run a process that no other fab can, it's because they understand it better or the hardware they are running it on is better.

      AC/DC as in the industry and at work...

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  4. Paul J Turner

    I Told You So! ;-)

    Well, I did, 4 months ago -

    http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/11/07/tesla_share_drop/#c_2017310

    Maybe it's not a problem...

    Maybe it's an opportunity!

    Elon could build a Lithium Battery plant in the US, at the very least it might terrify EverReady etc into action.

    Unless of course, the manufacture of Lithium batteries is a very environmentally unfriendly process, then you would have to wonder about the whole idea.

    1. Tom 13
      Thumb Up

      Re: Unless of course, the manufacture of Lithium batteries

      The manufacture of just about any commercial battery is a very environmentally unfriendly process. That's the bit here that surprised me the most: the site will be in the US where environmental regs stop all kinds of good ideas. So even though I doubt electric vehicles will be truly workable in my lifetime, I'll give Musk a big thumbs up for not taking the easy way out of dealing with those issues.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tesla - Cashflow ?

    Unless Musk if funding this himself, I don;t see that Tesla have the capital to fund thousands of Superchargers, expand car production to hundred's of thousands/year soon and partner with Panasonic in a Giga Battery factory. unless they issue some more shares, to the suckers who have driven them to a dot.com bubbling $30bn market cap on a company that in all reality only makes about 20,000 units a year.

  6. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    "To combat [battery quality control issues, possibly contributing to battery fires in their cars], Musk is planning an American battery factory that will make batteries from raw materials instead of components, [reducing the long term risk to his brand, negative press caused by the occasional car fire]."

    There, I fixed it for you.

  7. Identity
    Stop

    This, from Tesla's 10-K

    "In addition, we have also announced our intent to develop Gen III which we expect to produce at the Tesla Factory after the introduction of Model X. We intend to offer this vehicle at a lower price point and expect to produce it at higher volumes than our Model S. Importantly, we anticipate producing our Gen III vehicle for the mass market and thus we will need a high-volume supply of lithium-ion cells at reasonable prices. While our plan is to attempt to produce lithium-ion cells and finished battery packs for our Gen III vehicles at a new Tesla Gigafactory, our plans for such production are at a very early stage and we have not yet selected a site for the construction of the Tesla Gigafactory nor completed a factory design. In addition, we have no experience in the production of lithium-ion cells, and accordingly we intend to engage partners with significant experience in cell production and to date we have not formalized such partnerships. In addition, the cost of building and operating the Tesla Gigafactory could exceed our current expectations and the Tesla Gigafactory may take longer to bring online than we anticipate. If we are unable to build the Tesla Gigafactory in a timely manner to produce high volumes of quality lithium-ion cells for Gen III at reasonable prices and thus are forced to rely on others to supply us with lithium-ion cells for Gen III, our ability to produce our Gen III vehicles at a price that allows us to sell Gen III profitably could be constrained. Finally, we have very limited experience allocating our available resources among the design and production of multiple models of vehicles, such as Model S (including any variants we may introduce such as right-hand drive), Model X and Gen III. While we intend each of our production vehicles and their variants to meet a distinct segment of the automotive market, our vehicles may end up competing with each other which may delay sales and associated revenue to future periods. Also, if we fail to accurately anticipate demand for each of our vehicles, this could result in inefficient expenditures and production delays. Furthermore, historically, automobile customers have come to expect new and improved vehicle models to be introduced frequently. In order to meet these expectations, we may in the future be required to introduce on a regular basis new vehicle models as well as enhanced versions of existing vehicle models. As technologies change in the future for automobiles in general and performance electric vehicles specifically, we will be expected to upgrade or adapt our vehicles and introduce new models in order to continue to provide vehicles with the latest technology and meet customer expectations. To date, we have limited experience simultaneously designing, testing, manufacturing, upgrading, adapting and selling our electric vehicles."

    1. Tom 13

      Re: This, from Tesla's 10-K

      To me that looks like the usual legal boilerplate to protect them from shareholder lawsuits if things don't go exactly as planned. You know, the sorts of things Ichan uses to ream out companies.

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