Giga Nevada

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Giga Nevada
Tesla Model 3
Drone view in December 2019
Giga Nevada is located in Nevada
Giga Nevada
Location of Giga Nevada
Giga Nevada is located in the United States
Giga Nevada
Giga Nevada (the United States)
BuiltJanuary 2015[1] –2020s
OperatedJanuary 2016[2]
LocationStorey County, Nevada, U.S.
Coordinates39°32′17″N 119°26′24″W / 39.538°N 119.440°W / 39.538; -119.440Coordinates: 39°32′17″N 119°26′24″W / 39.538°N 119.440°W / 39.538; -119.440
IndustryEnergy storage
ProductsElectric vehicle parts, Lithium-ion batteries
Employees7,000[3]
Area1,900,000 sq ft (180,000 m2)[4]
Owner(s)Tesla Inc.

Tesla Giga Nevada (or Gigafactory 1)[5] is a lithium-ion battery and electric vehicle subassembly factory near Reno, Nevada.[6][7][8] The facility is owned and operated by Tesla, Inc. to supply the battery packs for its electric vehicles and stationary storage systems. It is located at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) in Storey County, and employs around 7,000 people at the end of 2018,[3] with a timetable and hiring goals of eventual thousands more jobs in Reno with nearly 10,000 statewide, and over $100 billion in economic activity. Future manufacturing programs may also move to Nevada.[9][10][11]

The factory started limited production of Powerwalls and Powerpacks in the first quarter of 2016[12][2] using battery cells produced elsewhere, and began mass production of cells in January 2017.[13] Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval estimated that Nevada would enjoy $100 billion in economic benefit over two decades from the construction and operation of this factory.[10] The grand opening event was held on July 29, 2016.[14]

Gigafactory 1 is aligned on true north, which was done so that the equipment can be mapped by GPS and solar panels on the roof can be accurately aligned.[citation needed] The factory has also been designed to become entirely energy self-reliant. Tesla intends to power the structure through a combination of on-site solar, wind and geo-thermal sources.[15] When completed, the building will have the largest footprint in the world and second largest volume.[16]

According to Elon Musk, one hundred factories like Giga Nevada, will be necessary to transit the world to a complete sustainable energy consumption.[17]

History[edit]

Initial public mention of the gigafactory concept was made in November 2013,[18][19] although Tesla's internal plans predated that; Tesla had investigated almost 100 sites.[citation needed]

In July 2014, it was announced that Panasonic had reached a basic agreement with Tesla to invest in a factory,[20][21][22] estimated to cost $5 billion.[23][24] The northern Nevada site and plans were announced with state officials on September 3, 2014.[8] Panasonic agreed to lead the battery cell production portion of the manufacturing, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk indicated in 2015 that the total Panasonic investment would be US$1.5–2 billion,[25] and that Tesla would not expand beyond original plans.[26] In early 2016 Panasonic president Kazuhiro Tsuga confirmed a planned total investment of about $1.6 billion by the company to equip the factory to full capacity.[27] However, after the number of Model 3 reservations became known in April 2016,[28] Panasonic moved production plans forward[29][30] and announced a bond sale for $3.86 billion, most of it to be invested in Gigafactory.[31][32][33]

Tesla held a grand opening on July 29, 2016 of the operational facility, having only three of the final 21 "blocks" of the gigafactory built out, or approximately 14 percent of the final factory size, which is expected to be completed by 2020.[34] By September 2016 Tesla had spent $608 million on the Gigafactory.[35]

In October 2016, it was announced that Tesla would build motors and drive units at the Gigafactory, in addition to the previously announced batteries and assembled battery packs called Powerpacks.[36]

By November 2018, as the Model 3 production had successfully ramped up to approximately 5000 vehicles a week for several months, the production rate of battery cells in the Gigafactory had reached 3.5 million '2170' cells per day.[37]:1:08

Rationale[edit]

Elon Musk on a March 2015 tour of the construction of Gigafactory 1

Tesla expects that Gigafactory 1 will reduce the production cost for assembling electric vehicle battery packs from overseas suppliers of batteries and Powerwall and Powerpack packs assembly by 30%. Its projected capacity for 2018 is 50 (GWh)/yr of battery packs, and its final capacity upon completion was, as of May 2016, planned to be 150 GWh/yr of battery packs.[38] This would enable Tesla to produce 1,500,000 cars per year.[39][non-primary source needed][24][failed verification]

The factory is designed to optimize quality while minimizing cost of production of battery packs and raw material utilization through vertical integration. Tesla expects to achieve a cost target for production battery packs of under US$100 per kWh of energy storage by 2020, near the "inflection point at which it begins [to cost] less to build an electric powertrain than [an internal combustion engine powertrain] even without subsidies or [considering] the savings of electricity vs. gas."[34]

Tesla claims that Gigafactory will assemble battery packs from batteries purchased overseas for significantly less cost using economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing assembly processes under one roof.[40]

Factory location[edit]

Grants and tax abatements for Gigafactory until year 2034[41][42][43]

  $120M: Investment-dependable transferable tax credits, mostly from film tax (9%)
  $75M: $12,500-per-job transferable tax credits (6,000 jobs) (6%)
  $725M: 20-year 100% sales tax abatement (56%)
  $332M: 10-year 100% property tax abatement (26%)
  $27M: 10-year 100% modified business tax abatement (2%)
  $8M: Discounted electricity rates for eight years (1%)

Tesla initially considered several sites, but northern Nevada was not one of them. A manager at Reno–Tahoe International Airport offered some of its 3,000 available acres at Reno Stead Airport, and persuaded TRIC owner to split the bill for a private jet to fly Tesla people to the area. They tried several times, and Tesla eventually came to TRIC and was pleased by the speed of regulatory work.[44][45][46]

State competition and incentives[edit]

At least five states competed to attract Gigafactory by offering tax incentives, cash grants[47][48] and other methods in the hope of future business; California,[49][50] Arizona,[51] Nevada,[52] New Mexico, and Texas,[53] where San Antonio had offered bigger incentives with no sales tax, but did not get the factory. States without sales tax were topping the list of preferred sites.[41][52][54][55][56]

Nevada estimates a tax base of $1.9 billion over 20 years.[43] After sticky negotiations,[56] Tesla chose the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) as the location of the Gigafactory mainly due to speed[52] and a State of Nevada incentive package. Other location reasons were rail access, direct sale ability,[48][54] and low air humidity[57] to ensure less than 300 ppm humidity in production.[58] The TRIC owners gave the first 1,000 acres to Tesla for free.[59]

The incentives include $195 million in transferable tax credits depending on Tesla's investment schedule and job creation, similar to the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant deal and others.[41][55][56][60] Tesla's investments earn them about $10 million in tax credits per quarter,[61][62][63] and by July 2016 had sold these for $20 million cash.[64] At the end of 2016, Tesla and Panasonic had 477 employees and 5,591 construction workers, mostly Nevada residents, and invested $1.1b earning $59m in tax credits.[65] By 2019, the gigafactory companies (now with 7,700 employees) had invested a combined $4.9 billion dollars ($3b by Tesla, $1.7b by Panasonic, and $100m by H&T plus some equipment). This qualified the companies for the full tax credit amount of $195 million[66] which were repurposed from other tax credit programs for the filming and insurance industries, keeping Nevada State tax programs neutral. The development surpassed the original 2014 plan for investments and 6,500 employees. Numbers for construction were $2 billion and 17,000 workers.[67][68]

The incentive package also includes 20 years free from sales tax and 10 years free from property tax, depending on Tesla's ability to meet performance expectations (like investing $3.5 billion in Nevada).[41][56] By 2034, this package could have accumulated to a value of $1.25 billion in missed taxes; the 10th largest in the US. The $725M sales tax abatement was particularly important, as 5 other states charge no sales tax at all, and 34 states (including Arizona and Texas) don't charge sales tax on manufacturing equipment.[41][55] With a tax base of $1.9 billion and an incentive package of $1.25 billion, the projected end result was calculated as a tax-per-abatement ratio of 1.52.[42][52][69] For 2014-2018, tax abatements were $240 million.[67] The nearby data centers from Apple Inc. and Switch also received incentives.[52][70]

Nevada estimates the construction impact at $2.4 billion and the economic impact from the project at $100 billion over two decades ($5 billion/year, of which $353-378 million are wages) yielding $57 million in state and local taxes.[42][43][67] Some economists said that number was "deeply flawed," for instance, it counted every Tesla employee as if they would otherwise have been unemployed and made no allowance for increased government spending to serve the influx of thousands of local residents.[10][71][72][73][74][75][76] The regional impact is estimated to be $3.5 billion per year. Other large companies chose to create activity in the area partly due to Gigafactory.[67] Tesla agreed to pay $7.5M per year for 5 years ($37.5M) to the school system.[41]

Logistics[edit]

The 6-mile Nevada State Route 439/USA Parkway was built by TRIC, and connects TRIC to Interstate 80. Since 2004, the TRIC owners had planned to extend SR 439 south to U.S. Route 50.[77] In 2014, Nevada Department of Transportation advanced the otherwise dormant south extension.[78][79][80][81] This improves traffic conditions for the many large logistics centres at TRIC and Gigafactory, bypassing Reno on the way to U.S. Route 50.[82][83] Tesla plans to ship batteries by rail[84] to its car factory in Fremont.[48][85]

Water is scarce in Nevada, and some of the water for the Gigafactory is piped from a treatment plant in neighboring Washoe County.[56] A 1.5 million U.S. gallons (5.7 million L) water tank is also used (about two Olympic-size swimming pools).[86][87][88]

TRIC built high-pressure natural gas lines to its sites, but Tesla decided to use electricity and not connect natural gas to Gigafactory.[89] Heat pump technology is used for heating,[90][91] and a $6.8 million hot water storage tank with 10 million gallons is used to balance heat.[86][58] In 2014 Navigant estimated 100 MW electricity delivery which could be supplied (on average) by nearby wind turbines and roof solar panels,[92] whereas a former Tesla logistics manager in 2016 estimated 300 MW to produce 35 GWh of battery capacity per year.[93] Tesla installed solar panels on the roof in early 2018,[94][95] to eventually reach 70 MW[96] from 200,000 solar panels.[97]

Tesla works with a mining company to extract lithium 200 miles (320 km) to the southeast, at Silver Peak in Esmeralda County. They intend to process the underground brine water industrially over hours rather than the traditional way of letting the water evaporate from ponds over a year.[53][98]

Construction[edit]

Steve Jurvetson on a tour of Tesla Gigafactory 1

Tesla had already started brush clearing[99] and grading[52] during the summer of 2014[100] (prior to official announcement in September; permit date was June 26),[86] with vertical construction reported in January 2015.[1] Tesla and its partners intend to complete the facility by 2018.[101][failed verification] On March 18, 2016 a group of journalists were allowed to visit the Gigafactory under strict conditions and found that 14% of the final building area had been completed.[102] By April 2016 there were around 600 construction workers.[103] Depending on season and building stage, the number of construction workers has fluctuated between 250 and 1,800.[104] On June 13, 2016, Tesla filed for a $63m expansion into section E on the site. By September 2016, the building had grown to 1.9 million sq ft (0.2 million m2) with further areas under construction.[105] As of January 2017 the building's footprint is 1.9 million sq ft (0.2 million m2) with 4.9 million sq ft (0.5 million m2) of usable area across several floors.[106] A combined permit value of $322m was registered in July 2016,[107] and $1.2b in July 2017.[86] Gigafactory and the other large companies affect the local area by increased needs in transportation (SR 439) and housing;[108] house prices increased by 17% in 2015 from half of the peak in the previous 2008 building bubble. Local businesses were wary of building new homes, which is being done mostly by out-of-state companies.[109]

Design features

HVAC equipment is located "between the floors rather than on walls and ceilings of a floor."[34] All steel is from the United States. Tesla is its own contractor on the project, learning how to build other factories should they choose so.[28][87]

Future expansion[edit]

On April 30, 2015, Elon Musk announced that the factory heretofore known simply as the Gigafactory was now to be known as Gigafactory 1 as Tesla plans to build more such factories in the future. At the same event, Musk also said that he believed that other companies would build their own similar "Gigafactories".[6] After receiving $800M of orders ($179M PowerWall, $625M PowerPack) within 1 week of unveiling, Musk estimated that the Gigafactory 1 is not enough to supply demand.[110] In May 2017 at a TED Talk, Elon Musk stated his intention to announce three or four new Gigafactory sites to manufacture both batteries and complete cars.[111]

Prior to the building of more gigafactories, Tesla may expand and potentially double the size of Gigafactory 1. In June 2015, Tesla announced it exercised its option to buy 1,864 acres (754 hectares) of land adjacent to the original 1,000-acre (400 ha) Gigafactory site. According to Tesla spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson, "The purchase gives us the opportunity for future growth." In Tesla's dealings with the state of Nevada expanding the size was always an option should the company choose to do so, said Steve Hill, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. "Tesla had said that the factory will be up to 10 million square feet [1 million square meters] in one or two stories," Hill said. "On the earnings call (in May 2015), Elon said they aren't yet committing to this but that they are considering increasing the size of the gigafactory here by 50 to 100 percent."[112]

Early estimates from 2014 projected that the factory would employ approximately 6,500 people by 2022, requiring at least half of them to be Nevadans.[42]

Operations[edit]

Tesla owns the land and building, and leases parts of the building to several suppliers.[113] The gigafactory is operated by a management team under executive Jens Peter Clausen, formerly a LEGO executive, who is VP of Gigafactory at Tesla.[114] By April 2016 Gigafactory had 317 Tesla employees and 52 by Panasonic, most of them from Nevada,[103] and 850 by December 2016.[115] In 2017, 3,249 employees were registered,[116][117] and by December 2018, 7,000 people worked at GF1,[113][118] increasing to 7,557 by June 2019, mostly Nevadans.[66]

Production[edit]

The factory is intended to gradually[119][120] provide cradle-to-cradle handling of batteries, from raw material over components to finished products, and recycling old batteries into new.[24] Cells constitute most of the value creation, whereas packing and electronics are minor parts.[121] Tesla views production as more important than products, and assigns more engineers to developing production equipment than to developing products.[122][123][124]

Cell level[edit]

Computer generated image comparing 2170 and 18650 cells

The battery cells produced at the Gigafactory are the new form factor '2170', jointly designed and engineered by Tesla and Panasonic.[125] They are larger than the 18650 cells used in the Model S and Model X automobiles. While the cells were originally expected to be at least 20 mm in diameter and 70 mm in length,[126][127] revised specifications for the optimized form factor are 21 mm (0.83 in) by 70 mm (2.8 in). Tesla thus refers to it as the '21–70'[34] or '2170'[125] whereas Samsung refer to the size as '21700'.[128]

Panasonic was expected to begin cell production in 2016,[114] and continue for at least 10 years.[129] Among the machines spotted at the opening in July 2016 were presses and rollers for cathodes.[130] Gigafactory began mass production of 21700 cells in January 2017.[13][120] Only Panasonic cells are to be used in the US-made Model 3,[131] and Tesla uses 21-70 format for Model 3 and Powerwall/Powerpack.[120] Panasonic owns some of the cell production equipment[129] in an area not accessible to others. By December 2018, Panasonic operated 11 cell production lines.[113] Some of the lines were temporarily converted from storage (NMC) to vehicle (NCA) to increase supply for the Model 3.[132]

Tesla uses Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) lithium cells for stationary storage (Powerwall and Powerpack), and Nickel Cobalt Aluminium Oxide (NCA) for vehicles.[133] The cell components are then encased in aluminum cans made by Heitkamp & Thumann inside GF1,[134][113] using 10,000 tons per year.[135] An April 2019 report quoting former and current employees at Panasonic's side of the Gigafactory described how half a million of battery cells per day were scrapped because of production defects related to carelessness, lack of respect for operating procedures, and the overall pressure to increase output.[136][137][138] Panasonic delivered three million battery cells daily to Tesla in 2018.[113] At the end of 2019, Panasonic had 3000 US workers and 200 Japanese technicians at Gigafactory 1,[137] quality had improved to increase production to a rate of 30 GWh/year on the same equipment. Panasonic occupies more than half of the factory.[138]

Product level[edit]

Cylindrical cell (18650) prior to assembly

The basis of the early Tesla products are lithium-ion cells in the 18650 form factor. These cylindrical cells have a diameter of 18 mm and are 65 mm in length, a size used for the batteries of laptops. Cylindrical cells are generally less expensive (costing 190–200 dollars per kWh as of 2014) than large format cells whose active layers are stacked or folded (approximately 240–250 dollars per kWh).[139] They are used in Model S and X, and Powerwall 1.

In October 2015, Tesla moved the Tesla Powerwall and Powerpack production from its Fremont factory to the Gigafactory. The Tesla Powerwall has been produced in the finished portion since the third quarter of 2015.[102] 2170-cells are transferred on autonomous vehicles from Panasonic to Tesla, where workers and robots assemble cells into packs using bandoliers, cooled by tubes made onsite by Valeo.[113][140] Drive units (motor and gearbox) for Model 3 are made with 90% automation.[113]

Output goals[edit]

As of 2014, the projected capacity of Gigafactory for 2020 was to have been 35 gigawatt-hours per year of cells as well as 50 gigawatt-hours per year (5.7 MW) of battery packs.[20] Production could be equivalent of supplying 500,000 Tesla cars per year.[24][101][141] When finished, the factory is planned to produce more lithium ion batteries in a year than were produced in the entire world in 2013. As of May 2019, Gigafactory 1 has achieved a theoretical capacity of 35 gigawatt-hours per year but utilization levels have resulted in a 24 gigawatt-hour output, according to Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga.

Karl Hansen investigations[edit]

In August 2018, Karl Hansen, a former member of the company's security team, filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the complaint, he alleges that Tesla suppressed an internal investigation into various criminal activities that occurred at Giga Nevada during his tenure. For one, Hansen alleges that the company refused to inform the DEA and local law enforcement officials about evidence of cocaine and crystal methamphetamine smuggling occurring on factory grounds in connection with a Mexican drug cartel.[142] Hansen also claims in it that the company successfully suppressed his internal investigation into the alleged theft of $37 million worth of raw materials.[143]

Following the complaint, Hansen went on to allege that Tesla fired him as an employee and then as a contractor because he was "not a Tesla team player."[144] Hansen then cooperated with an FBI investigation after discovering that Tesla was spying on him and a roommate immediately following his expulsion; the investigation was later shut down without explanation following months of work. Hansen detailed his entire story in a three-hour-long interview.[145]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

External media
Development of Gigafactory
Images
Inside the Tesla Gigafactory (gallery), March 18, 2016
Factory size comparison
Aerial view, July, 2017
The 2170 cell
Video
Timelapse of construction
Tesla Gigafactory, March 18, 2016
Gigafactory launch event presentation with Elon Musk and JB Straubel on YouTube
Fly-over, September 2016 on YouTube