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Tesla: Importance Of The GigaFactory


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Very informative article for those unaware of the fact that the Gigafactory is under construction faster than anyone expected, and Musk says they will begin using their own batteries in 2016 instead of 2017! He's planning to go into production next year!






Tesla's high share price is justified on the basis of rapid, long-term successful growth of their car business.


Growth of the scale Tesla plans with their Gigafactory is rare, but an interesting and relevant historic parallel does exist.


Recent pictures of the Gigafactory show the tremendous scale of this project and that it is progressing rapidly.


Information in Tesla's most recent 10-Q filing gives some insight and Model X news may give more insight into critical Gigafactory progress.


First off, a little bit of historical perspective on Tesla's growth is in order. Tesla plans to make 500,000 cars in 2020, five years from now. Last year Tesla made perhaps 33,000 cars. We will find out exactly how many when they report earnings later this month. Not only is Tesla telling us they will grow their production by 15 times, they also claim they will reduce the price of their electric cars by half - all within the next five years. To reduce costs, and to obtain massive quantities of batteries, Tesla is building a very large Nevada battery factory.


While growth rates in automobile manufacturing such as Tesla is planning are unheard of today, just over a century ago, Henry Ford achieved almost precisely what Tesla seeks to achieve today. In 1911, Ford built 34,858 Model T automobiles. Five years later, in 1916, Model T production was 501,462 units. The price of the Model T roadster was $680 in 1911. By 1915 the price had dropped by 43%, to $390, owing to the economy of scale and vertical integration of Ford's manufacturing process. Ford's growth in Model T production, sales and manufacturing integration is a nearly exact parallel to what Tesla plans to achieve in the next five years.


Ford helped change a world of personal transportation powered by hay and oats into one powered by oil. Tesla is changing personal transportation from gasoline and diesel power to electricity. Vanadium steel was critical to Ford's success because it enabled their Model T to be lighter, more durable and ultimately cheap enough for most people to afford. To secure a large, stable supply of vanadium steel, at low cost, Ford built their own steel plant, the Rouge.


Tesla is depending on advanced, lithium-ion batteries with high energy and power density, in huge quantities to enable high performance, long range and affordable electric cars. Tesla is building their own battery factory to obtain the quantity and quality of the batteries they need, at low cost.


Tesla's 1,000 acre battery factory site, east of Reno, Nevada, is almost exactly the size of Ford's Rouge complex. Tesla will even generate its own electric power on site - just as Ford did at the Rouge, but with wind and solar, instead of coal.

If this comparison of Tesla's growth to Ford's Model T experience does not fully convey the scale of Tesla's plans and battery plant undertaking, perhaps the following picture will.


Tesla's recent 10-Q filing offers news on their progress in Nevada and some tantalizing information.


... Construction continued during the third quarter of 2014 at an accelerated pace with first cells expected to be produced in 2016 for use in Model S and Model X.

We plan to use the battery packs manufactured at the Gigafactory for our vehicles, initially for Model S and Model X, and later for our Model 3 vehicle, and stationary storage applications."


You'll have to go to the article in the link below to see the pictures and amazing enormity of the factory!



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  • 2 months later...

His factory could be obsolete before it pays for itself.

If so, it could lead to loss write-offs - something to watch out for in the future.


"The new aluminum-ion battery could replace many of the lithium-ion and alkaline batteries in wide use today"

Stanford News:



On the other hand - every day it looks more and more promising for electric vehicles.


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Interesting development. Such an exciting area of research right now.


Just because I was curious, I looked up the progression from first demonstration to commercial application to widespread commercial use for lithium batteries. First demonstration - 1979, first commercial application - 1991. So give or take 12 years including several key innovations and refinements along the way to first market. LiiFePO4 batteries were proposed in 1996, seem to have progressed sufficiently to become commercially produced by ~2004, then harder to tell, but coming on in broader applications and larger sizes between 2012 & now. (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery#History)


I couldn't find great simple statistics for battery sales, but two sources look to me that sometime between 2002 & 2009, all lithium batteries cross into 40%+ of sales. (http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1371/pdf/circ1371_508.pdf and http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/global_battery_markets). I couldn't tease out LiFePO4 from the whole.


Pace of innovation has picked up, but even so, I'd be willing to SWAG that the Gigafactory will get 10 years of significant production before it will have to factor in a changeover to an aluminum battery.

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Pace of innovation has picked up, but even so, I'd be willing to SWAG that the Gigafactory will get 10 years of significant production before it will have to factor in a changeover to an aluminum battery.


It took 20 years for the laser to go from discovery to use in retail/commercial products.

So yes, ten years seems reasonable for the factory cost recapture. By year 20 - all bets are off!

Who knows? Maybe hydrogen or some heretofore undiscovered process might be ahead.

Exciting times.

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X3! The reason Musk gets results is because he knows what he wants, designs it in his head, puts it into production, then continuously improves it. The usual route is for a company to go public with an idea for a new product and once they are public, they use the funds raised to research it more and then 90% of them fade away. Musk has several plans executing simultaneously. But he'll be ahead of the power curve and retooling for any new idea that he can make work. I was reading about this today too, and came to the same conclusions. Not ready for prime time now. If Musk sees it adorable he could bring it to market in a couple of years.



For the less techie folks reading here, this article shows what is being talked about with a picture of an aluminum ion "Bag" battery.




"Cheap, long lasting, quick to recharge: Is this the battery your phone's been waiting for?


Stanford-developed, revolutionary aluminium-ion battery just might be the best and last battery you will ever need.


While our smartphones have grown ever more advanced and power-hungry over the last few years, improvements to their batteries have so far failed to keep pace.


Now, scientists at Stanford University have developed a new battery technology that they believe might just change that.

Aluminium instead of lithium


Scientists have been looking at ways to improve battery life for some time. Last year, Stanford was experimenting with a 'pure' lithium battery as a possible way to boost battery capability. Now researchers at the university have come up with a new alternative: an ultrafast rechargeable aluminium-ion battery.


Aluminium has long been an attractive material for batteries, according to the university, thanks to its "low cost, low flammability, and high-charge storage capacity".


For decades, researchers have tried unsuccessfully to develop a commercially viable aluminium-ion battery, but "a key challenge has been finding materials capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging", Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford, said.


The Stanford system has a couple of advantages on the tradtional setup. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, aluminium batteries are safe and are not a fire hazard. It's also "ultra-fast charging", according to the researchers, and in tests showed "unprecedented charging times". However, details of the charging times have not been released.


Perhaps one of the biggest claimed breakthroughs is in recharging. Aluminium batteries developed at other laboratories usually died after just 100 charge-discharge cycles. But the battery developed at Stanford "was able to withstand more than 7,500 cycles without any loss of capacity", according to the university.


Although the technology shows promise, it's unlikely to be featuring in our smartphones any time soon. While the researchers are still conducting their tests on the new technology, according to Dai, the battery they have developed currently produces "about half the voltage of a typical lithium battery". However, improvements in the cathode material could eventually lead to a higher voltage, the researchers believe.


The battery "has everything else you'd dream that a battery should have: inexpensive electrodes, good safety, high-speed charging, flexibility and long cycle life," Dai said."


The article with pics of the actual test battery is here: http://www.zdnet.com/article/cheap-long-lasting-quick-to-recharge-is-this-the-battery-your-phones-been-waiting-for/?tag=nl.e539&s_cid=e539&ttag=e539&ftag=TRE17cfd61

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This just in, and likely to be the direction Musk would be most interested in helping to develop. The article is titled "Researchers Enhance Ionic Conductivity Of Solid Electrolyte By 3 Orders Of Magnitude — Potential For High-Energy Li-Ion Batteries"




"The ionic conductivity of polymer-based solid electrolyte has been enhanced by more than 3 full orders of magnitude by researchers at Stanford University, through the use of ceramic nanowire fillers, according to a recent press release from the university. The new ceramic-nanowire-filled composite polymer electrolyte also possesses a better (enlarged) electrochemical window of stability. (It might be obvious to some here, but just to be clear, an improvement of 3 orders of magnitude is a considerably greater one than when something is increased 3 times over — it’s actually an increase of ~1,000 times.)"


More in the article here: http://cleantechnica.com/2015/04/07/researchers-enhance-ionic-conductivity-solid-electrolyte-3-orders-magnitude-potential-high-energy-li-ion-batteries/?utm_source=Cleantechnica+News&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cb52d7889a-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_b9b83ee7eb-cb52d7889a-331970081

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