Tesla Gigafactory Starts Mass-Production

In Sparks, Nevada, Tesla announced last week that its long-heralded, $5 billion gigafactory is now in mass-production mode – producing lithium-ion battery cells that will be used in the company’s Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 energy storage products, as well as in Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles.

The high-performance cylindrical “2170 cell” was jointly designed and engineered by Tesla in partnership with  Japanese electronics maker Panasonic “to offer the best performance at the lowest production cost in an optimal form factor for both electric vehicles and energy product,” the companies said in a joint announcement.

The new battery cell – named for its 21mm x 70mm dimensions – represents a departure from Tesla’s older 18650 (18mm x 65mm) cell, according to Engineering.com , a trade journal.  Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that the new dimensions were selected as a balance between physics and economics.

Musk told  Engineering that the new batteries are the least-expensive and highest-performing Li-ion batteries on the market – although he offered no evidence to support that claim, the journal said.

Indeed, Tesla is not releasing information about the 2170 cell capacity. Nonetheless, the auto maker expects it to become the new industry standard for EV batteries.

Indeed, by next year, the joint venture expects to manufacture 35 GWh of batteries for home and commercial uses annually. That’s double the battery capacity currently being produced in the entire world, Tesla stated.

And that’s just the beginning. The factory is not even complete yet, according to a report by the San Jose Mercury News. Tesla said it is just 30 percent finished, but already, it has a footprint of 1.9 million square feet. 

Once complete, the company said, “We expect the gigafactory to be the biggest building in the world.”

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