Analyst Takes Us Inside Tesla’s Fremont Factory

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 21

Tesla's Fremont Factory

Tesla’s Fremont Factory

Production Heading to 100K

Production Heading to 100K

Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry toured of Tesla Motors’ Fremont factory in late August.  Below are some of his observations from inside:

  • Activity in Tesla’s factory lobby was extremely high, with both European and Asian suppliers inside.
  • Employees appeared motivated, passionate and enthusiastic

Chowdhry observed the following categories of battery packs:

Stationary Batteries

  • Residential: 10kWh
  • Commercial:400 kWh
  • Utility/Grid: > 400 Kwh

Automotive Batteries

  • 85 kWh for Model S
  • 60 kWh for Model S

Battery cells are assembled into modules and then into complete battery packs on the 2nd floor of the factory.  An entire area is set aside for stationary battery packs.

Self-Driving (Auto-Pilot) Teslas

Chowdhry observed  an area within the factory labeled “Driver Assist.”  He suspects this is set aside for auto-pilot development for future Tesla vehicles.

What we’re wondering is whether or not Tesla Motors is now utilizing more than 40% of the square footage within its Fremont factory.  We bet it’s close to 50% now.

Source: Street Insider

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21 responses to "Analyst Takes Us Inside Tesla’s Fremont Factory"

  1. Jouni Valkonen says:

    Does anyone know how large is Tesla’s Fremont factory’s main building? Wikipedia says it is 510 000 m², but this sounds quite large and the source for this information did not feel very reliable and article as such was outdated.

    51 hectares would put is perhaps into position of being the largest factory building in the world by footprint. And about the same sized as the Gigafactory will be.

    It seems that it is big anyway. I compared it to Boeing’s Everett factory and ocularly I could not say which was larger by footprint.

  2. Electric Bungaloo says:

    Why are they building 400 kwh batteries when they are supposed to be supply constrained on Model S?

    1. scottf200 says:

      Simpler to build and more profit would be good reasons. Need money to make money and stay viable for future cars (E)

      1. Electric Bungaloo says:

        In what universe are margins energy storage equipment are higher then on Model S?

        1. Mint says:

          They’re not making stationary battery packs in the thousands. Early customers are always the ones that get the most value from battery packs, and thus they’ll pay the most.

          Businesses buying battery packs are looking to save on demand charges. Some utilities charge $10/mo per peak kW, so 1MW peaks could cost them $120k/yr. If a 400kWh pack can get the peak down to 1/4 of that, it could easily be worth $500k to a company and thus highly profitable for Tesla (maybe $100k of cells, $100k of electronics, plus packaging).

          It’s a business that they have to establish as risk mitigation for the gigafactory (and to generate demand for future gigfactories).

          1. Electric Bungaloo says:

            But there are already storage battaries on offer, why would someone pay more for ones from Tesla, if that is what you imply?
            Again, if they are demand constrained, why making something with lower margins?

            1. Jouni Valkonen says:

              The point is to create and establish markets. Energy storage business will be huge business in 2020’s and at this point Tesla must establish their foothold on these markets.

              This is also why Tesla is expanding globally although its current production capacity (1000 cars per week) cannot even satisfy the US demand.

            2. Priusmaniac says:

              Perhaps one would pay more if the Tesla pack was lighter and that weight was very important like for an airborne application or another mobile operation. Isn’t there a 400 KWh pack in the Dragon? If so weight would be more then critical.

    2. Bill Howland says:

      While they were ‘constrained’ at one time, I don’t believe that is the case any longer. Sales of the “S” are up overall, however, sales in the USA are down, probably due to the fact that the model S has been out for years now, and everyone who had been seriously considering purchasing an “S” in the past in the USA has already purchased one, or is very near to their purchase.

      Many are waiting (and many also putting deposits down on) the Model X, which should increase sales in the states. So, they obviously have ‘excess batteries’ available, and those are going to “Solar City” residential and commercial sales.

    3. Bonaire says:

      I would just like to know of one customer name of their 400kWh batteries and any in-production systems other than within the Fremont factory itself. They barely even pencil in battery pack system sales other than for Toyota and MB.

      Commercial load-shaving system sales could be a small niche business but it is very small versus the car business. They will have to work with more utilities to raise the “peak load” fees charged to customers so they can try to sell into this already-saturated business. Remember – numerous other battery firms already cover this market with less costly AGM battery cells which are getting better every year for such purposes.

      1. Jouni Valkonen says:

        In 10 years every home and company building will have solar panels with battery storage installed. If you count how many buildings there are in United States and in the World in general, this makes a heck of a lot demand growth potential for stationary battery storage solutions!

        As was above mentioned by mint, battery storage systems are already today useful as they shave demand spikes. Especially fast EV charging is cheaper with battery storage, because the demand spikes into grid can be levelled.

        1. Priusmaniac says:

          A battery for every solar equipped house is a bit too farfetched. A lot of solar equipped houses are also going to have a battery for the UPS convenience of it but that won’t be that many since grid storages is after all convenient and the grid can use other cheaper means to store electricity.
          Apart from the UPS effect, the peak consumption can more efficiently be dealt with by using a flywheel that typically excels in that kind of very short term storage and peak power delivery.

          1. Jouni Valkonen says:

            The problem with fly wheels are that you cannot really buy them from markets. So the low cost of fly wheel storage is more or less projected theoretical cost. But there are plenty of battery storage solutions available. And lot more will be in the near future.

            1. Priusmaniac says:

              I wonder if Beacon would not be happy to sell one of these:
              http://beaconpower.com/carbon-fiber-flywheels/

              1. Jouni Valkonen says:

                Sure Beacon would be happy to sell those, but the problem is that it is hard to find customers for those. Flywheels are only good for frequency regulation. They really cannot act feasibly as grid storage.

                This tells something that Tesla has installed more storage solutions than Beacon although Tesla has just tested out the technology and sniffed the market potential.

            2. Priusmaniac says:

              Perhaps activepower will also supply flywheels. They useto have the best ones but went through some trouble financialy. Last I noticed that they now supply flywheels integrated in Caterpilar UPS systems.
              According to their site they still do direct sales as well but they don’t seem to put their flywheels in front anymore. Perhaps worth a check.
              http://www.activepower.com/upssystems/

  3. scottf200 says:

    Various references to the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) state 5.3 million square feet

    1. Jouni Valkonen says:

      +1

  4. Khai L. says:

    It seems the source article is old, or at least the source material was:

    “Probably both California and Texas are the front runners for winning the GigaFactory”

    So at least 3 weeks old.

    so if they were humming along at 800/week then, they should be well along their way past 1000/week now right?

  5. GeorgeS says:

    seems like using 18650’s in a 400kwh pack is not optimimum from a size POV.

    Maybe when they get the giga factory they can run 2 battery sizes.

    I think that David mentioned 22700 as the new car pack size. Maybe a bigger cell and possibly a different chemistry for the 400 kwh utility packs. I believe they need a higher cycle life for the utility packs.

    1. Jouni Valkonen says:

      In some point Tesla said that they are using in storage solutions battery chemistry that has cell level energy density 200 Wh/kg where as Tesla’s car batteries have energy density c. 270 Wh/kg.

      But typically EV batteries are optimal also for energy storage solutions, because the higher is the energy density, the lower is also the manufacturing cost.

      Also LG Chem uses Chevy Volt batteries for its energy storage solutions.