Elon Musk And JB Straubel Talk Live At Gigafactory Launch – Video

10 months ago by Jay Cole 42

On Friday, Tesla held its grand opening of its Gigafactory, opening its doors to Model S and X referral leaders, contest winners and some media.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk talks about his future largest battery plant in the world facility

Tesla CEO Elon Musk talks about his future largest battery plant in the world facility

Tesla provide a live walk-through of Gigafactory to guests – check out the actual tour in its entirety here, and then afterwards held a chat with the group…by both CEO Elon Musk and his wing-man, CTO JB Straubel.

The duo go over all the basic “ins and outs” of the Gigafactory, with Musk kicking it off by saying:

“It has to be big, cause the world is big. The crazy thing is, that wat you are seeing here is only 14%.  It is 1/7th of what the completed factory will be.  We have been able to increase the output of the factory compared to the original design by a factor of three.  Ultimately with think the factory will produce about 150 GWh.”

Some scale anyone?

Some scale anyone?

On the lighter side of things:

“We can fit 50 billion hamsters (in the Gigafactory)”
“Of course, it will find Pokemon for you” – on future upcoming Tesla vehicle autonomy tech

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42 responses to "Elon Musk And JB Straubel Talk Live At Gigafactory Launch – Video"

  1. Terawatt - impatient says:

    As great as the factory looks, I am disappointed. I was expecting news of some kind or another to accompany the event, but really they didn’t make any announcements or even drop any hints about anything we didn’t already know.

    Oh well. I gueess I just need to be more patient. 2016 has been a difficult year to endure (and it’s far from over). Not very much new has made it to market, and it was all expected and long awaited. Several important developments have been positive surprises, with IMO the Model 3 and VWs ambitious new strategic plan to 2025 being the two biggest – and these of course are not for the instant gratification monkey, but mere promises for the future.

    I know the Bolt will ship before 2017 is here, but I’m in Norway and still don’t even know when the Ampera-e will arrive. It’s also really difficult to trust GM when they appear to act so inconsistently. On the one hand they claim to want to sell as many of the car as possible, globally, and also that they are not production constrained, and that the car is profitable. On the other hand they apparently haven’t even decided when to introduce the Ampera-e, where to make it, or in what numbers. Obviously such seemingly illogical behavior invites suspicion, and for me it is VERY difficult to imagine WHY the company should be so secretive about it’s plans outside of the US, when it’s plans for the US market has been known since January 2015..!!

    1. Alaa says:

      They are not secretive they just do not have enough batteries for you to have one in Norway.

      1. RexxSee says:

        Do you really believe this GM PR BS ?
        If they were serious about Europe, they would have ordered batteries years ago.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Yeah. With only 25k-30k Bolts produced in the first year of production, and likely not many more in the second, there won’t be more than a token number sold in Europe. The demand in North America will be much higher than that rate of production for an EV which appears to be as compelling as the Bolt.

          With the current rate of currency exchange, why would a U.S. manufacturer want to sell cars overseas, at a loss or at best a very thin profit margin, when the company can sell them here for much more profit?

          There might be a small amount of European sales just to get a foot in the door of BEV sales, and to establish the Ampera-e as a brand name. But I don’t see GM doing volume sales there with a car made in such low numbers.

          1. Anon says:

            Lets see what kind of Dealer “Market Adjustment” or other fees get slapped onto the Bolts, from high demand and constrained production numbers, on lots lucky enough to receive them…

    2. Rob Stark says:

      Tesla confirmed a Type II Minibus inspired vehicle on the Model X chassis. Prototype likely revealed next year.

      That is relatively small news but it was new news.

      1. Alaa says:

        My comment below is a GIGANTIC news. I am surprised no one noticed it!

    3. Marc says:

      +1

      here in Switzerland dealers don’t know when they’ll receive them. The gm bolt is not a global car like the model s so availablity is pretty much constrained to one country. Tesla rep called me a couple of days ago and told me they’re pretty sure they’ll deliver model 3 in two years. That’s good enough since the egolf lease ends around that time. Even it f it takes a while, it’s going to be well worth it in my opinion, it’ll be a far superior vehicle compared to the bolt.

    4. jstack says:

      They did tell how they have tripled the amount of batteries they can make by trimming each process and making them close in line.
      They also told how they cut the power in one line by 80% that was the most intensive energy part of the process.
      They did show the new 20700 format cells and confirm they will be producing them by the end of the year.
      They did have a model 3 on display at the end of the tour.
      It was awesome !!!

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        jstack said:

        “They did tell how they have tripled the amount of batteries they can make by trimming each process and making them close in line.”

        That sounds wonderful, but what does it really mean?

        If it means they can triple the output using the same machines in the same amount of time; or it means they can triple the amount they can produce using the same amount of energy; then that’s an absolutely astounding breakthrough and a strong indication that Elon is right about there being a surprising amount of room for improvement in manufacturing efficiency.

        If, however, Elon merely meant they could get as much output in one-third the space (volume)… then again he’s talking as if how much space the factory occupies is as important as the costs involved. And by comparison, mere volume of the factory is pretty unimportant.

        You can’t improve manufacturing “efficiency” in any meaningful way simply by cramming everything into a smaller building, or in the case of the Gigafactory, cramming a lot more manufacturing machines into the building than was originally intended.

        Now, there is a bit of economy to be gained in using a smaller space; a smaller building means less need for air conditioning, heating, and lighting. So that would indeed be a genuine improvement in efficiency. But obviously you can’t improve the overall energy efficiency of manufacturing by tenfold simply by using a smaller building! It would be absurd to claim that*.

        True improvements in efficiency in manufacturing will be reflected by lower costs, lower energy demand, or both. Not merely by reducing the volume of space used inside a factory.

        *Well, logically, that’s a glittering generality. One could imagine a scenario where the factory building was so large in comparison to what was needed, and the manufacturing lines so small, that it would indeed be a tenfold improvement in energy use to move into a much, much smaller building. But this could only happen where the building was something like an order of magnitude, or more, larger than what the manufacturer needed. Absurdly larger than necessary.

        * * * * *

        I remarked in another comment, just a few hours ago, that the word “efficiency” was probably the most over-used term in technical discussions, and has far too many different meanings for precision of language. Here Musk is pretty much reducing the meaning of term “efficiency” to the point that it’s near-meaningless. 🙁

  2. Alaa says:

    At 6:40 Elon says that they are confidant of 10 or more folds improvement in production capability.

    At 11:11 they show 150 GWh and 1.5 million cars!

    So logically if they improve the production capability by just 10 folds then they will make 150 GWh * 10 = 1500 GWh = 1.5 TERA Watt hour that can make FIFTEEN million cars a year.

    To me it looks right. 1.5 million cars from such a huge factory is too little. It will be 10 times that. Which makes it looks about right to me. All that is NOT taking into account a new chemistry that will increase the energy density. And at $100 per KWh then we are talking about $150 Trillion dollars in revenue from just the batteries. I don’t think that Apple can come near that revenue.

    The other thing that is clear is that they count on an average of 100 KWh per car as the size of the battery.

    1. floydboy says:

      PUT THAT DOWN! You weren’t supposed to smoke that!😬

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Hey, now! I want some of what he’s smokin’! It’s obviously powerful stuff!

        @Alaa:

        There is a big difference between a visionary saying he wantswants to improve factory efficiency by a factor of 5 or even 10, and demonstrating that he can actually do so. Note that when Elon publicly talked about this idea the first time, he talked about a 10-to-100-fold improvement! I’m glad he’s realized that the 100x improvement is too ridiculous even for hype, but 10x is little more believable.

        The idea that nobody in the world has previously realized that there is such a huge potential for increasing efficiency (and thus lowering costs) in manufacturing, despite centuries of building factories and decades since Ford developed the high-speed mass production line… Well, let’s just say that in this case, despite the fact that I actually live in Kansas: “I’m from Missouri — Show me!”

        Hoping Elon can prove me wrong here, but thinking he probably can’t.

        1. Alaa says:

          You start of by making fun of me and say that you want some of the stuff that I smoke, then you agree with me that 10x is more believable. And at the end you say “show me”.And you hope that Elon proves you wrong! You switched from one side to the other too many times. Why?
          Elon talked about this point for more than a minute. Why? After all this work he did you still thinks that he is untrustworthy?

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Alaa said:

            “…you agree with me that 10x is more believable.

            No; language barrier here, I think. I said “little more believable”, which means only slightly less unbelievable.

            “And at the end you say ‘show me’. And you hope that Elon proves you wrong! You switched from one side to the other too many times. Why?”

            The phrase “Show me!” demonstrates skepticism about whether something can actually come true. It indicates I won’t believe it until I see it. But I can hope something will come true without believing it is a realistic possibility.

            “Elon talked about this point for more than a minute. Why? After all this work he did you still thinks that he is untrustworthy?”

            There is a lot of hype in what Elon says. I wouldn’t characterize that as “untrustworthy”, but rather that we have to treat his claims with some skepticism. We need to try to separate his factual statements from his “spin” and his sometimes unrealistic visionary optimism.

            He keeps talking about treating factory production as if it’s a physics problem, and he includes space in the physics formula. Well, that’s just not going to work. It’s not practical. If Tesla literally crams everything into the Gigafactory with almost no space between things, like Elon is talking about, that may increase efficiency on paper, but in reality it makes for a much, more more difficult (and thus less efficient) environment for a working factory. There needs to be space around machines to access them for maintenance purposes, to allow air to flow for ventilation and so heat doesn’t build up, and to provide some flexibility in case they need to replace a machine with a bigger one… or even to increase the speed of the production line by installing another machine right beside one that’s already there.

            It’s not merely that it’s my opinion that cramming everything together like that isn’t a good idea; it’s that it’s factually incorrect to say that’s an improvement in efficiency. It will actually make things less efficient to cram everything in so tightly.

            And frankly, I find it astonishing to hear Elon talk so naively on this subject, as if he’s discovered some new principle of manufacturing. I just hope someone is able to convince him this won’t work before Tesla wastes a lot of money trying to build the Gigafactory that way. Fortunately, Tesla has Panasonic as a partner, and I assume they won’t put up with such nonsense. That is, I hope Panasonic would refuse to invest in the Gigafactory, and walk away, rather than allow their investment to be used in a manner that would surely fail.

            1. Alaa says:

              When you are so very clever, why did you not do something like SpaceX?

              1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                As with Tesla Motors, I greatly admire the achievements of SpaceX. But that doesn’t mean I believe Musk when he says there is a practical way to colonize Mars using current technology… just as I don’t believe there’s a way to increase the efficiency of manufacturing by tenfold.

                But again, that doesn’t mean I find Musk “untrustworthy”. I just think that sometimes he lets his vision and his optimism soar too high, like Icarus did before he fell.

      2. Alaa says:

        I don’t smoke.

    2. JustWilliamPDX says:

      Is this the same deduction process you used when you were sure the Model 3 was launching mass production this year? I must say, you have a flair for wildly unconventional thinking.

      1. Alaa says:

        Refute me with evidence. I submitted my evidence. I pointed out the exact time that Elon said what he said and I did a simple multiplication. What is wrong with that logic? As for the production this year, I don’t know about you but here in Cairo Egypt it is the end of July. So 2016 has 5 more months.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Your claim that Tesla Motors would actually be able to get the Model ≡ into production even faster than Elon has recently said he wanted to, even after Elon himself admitted his accelerated timeline was an impossible goal…

          Your claim had nothing to do with logic. At best it’s wishful thinking; at worst it suggests a drug-induced fantasy, which is why we joked about you smoking something. We didn’t mean tobacco! If it’s still not clear what we meant, then look up the origin of the term “pipe dream”.

  3. jmac says:

    Musk says the gigafactory will make possible 1.5 million electric cars.

    In 2015 there were 68,539,516 passenger vehicles manufactured.

    There were also 22,241,057 commercial vehicles produced for a total of 90,780,583

    In other words 90 million ICE were put out on the street in 2015 compared to less than 500,000 pure electric cars sold.

    Basically, there were 180 ICE sold that run on oil for every BEV running on electricity.

    Musk is certainly right. If the current gigafactory can produce cells for 1.5 million cars, then that is not nearly enough.

    To produce 90 million vehicles would require appx. 60 gigafactories.

    Next year there will no doubt be at least another 90 million piston engine cars and commercial vehicles unleashed on planet earth. The electric car response will likely be another appx 500,000 BEV.

    Taking 2015 and 2016 together, we see that some 180 million ICE will be manufactured while two years production of alternative BEV electric cars will only amount to perhaps 1 million.

    That is the sobering reality, nearly 200 ICE manufactured for every true electric car.

    1. Zach says:

      That’s why the shared mobility concepts are so important. You can cut the be necessary cars by 90% in some cases for rapid electrification

      1. jmac says:

        Musk is going to have a personal car from now until the day he dies…. and so am I.

        F… Musk’s shared mobility program. Since Zach is so enamored with the shared mobility idea, I hereby volunteer him to be the first to give up his personal vehicle for the good of the collective.

        1. floydboy says:

          Isn’t that the cool thing about choice? Some may choose to, others may choose not to.🙂

        2. JustWilliamPDX says:

          The fact that you, I, or Elon Musk aren’t using alternative forms of transit doesn’t negate the fact that hundreds of millions of other humans do so right now. As population grows and is increasingly urban, ride sharing and autonomy will be increasingly relevant, attractive and necessary. Massive paradigm shifts require multi faceted involvement to reach critical mass.

          1. Anon says:

            Um, BEVs are still considered an Alternate Form of Transport. They aren’t mainstream yet. Don’t for a second think Elon does not personally use AutoPilot, as he’s testing updates on his own vehicles all the time.

            And once someone builds a functioning Hyperloop, I can see him using that.

            Or one of his rockets, someday…

          2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Looks to me like the idea that self-driving cars are going to cause a “massive paradigm shift” is just wishful thinking.

            The biggest change there, it seems to me, will be to put taxi drivers out of work. The only areas where someone could actually depend on summoning a car from a fleet of self-driving cars, are areas where population density is already so high, and parking places so hard to find, that many or most people would rather depend on taxis rather than own their own cars.

            People who live in suburbs, or worse, in rural areas, can’t depend on a self-driving car someone else owns for transportation, anymore than they can depend on taxis. They can’t depend on a car they don’t own because they’ll have to wait much too long for such a car to get to where they are. Switching a taxi from one driven by a human to one driven by a robot brain isn’t going to suddenly put that taxi any closer to someone who lives far away from where taxis usually hang out… which is in high density urban areas.

            The idea that millions of people are gonna give up the convenience of owning a car, the convenience of having a car available at all times to use at a moment’s notice, seems to me to be, again, nothing more than wishful thinking.

            Will there be a relatively small number of people who will give up having a personal car, in favor of depending on summoning one from a fleet of a self-driving cars? Sure.

            And at the same time, there will be a relatively small number of people who don’t own a car now, because they can’t legally drive, who will decide to buy one once cars become self-driving. It may well be that this group will outnumber the group described just above.

            * * * * *

            The only way to get millions of people to give up owning a personal car is to figure out a way to extend mass transportation services out to the suburbs. Perhaps someday we’ll have “people mover” pods running on dedicated elevated tracks; pods made cheaply enough and in sufficient numbers that even someone living out in the suburbs will be able to summon one quickly to within walking distance. Make express “people mover” routes part of such a system; routes which can move people from one side of a large city to another faster than a car can travel, and then you will indeed see millions of people giving up their cars!

            At the moment, that idea is just science fiction. But it’s a lot more likely to happen than this concept of millions of people giving up the personal freedom that owing your own car represents!

            1. JustWilliamPDX says:

              All excellent points. My point was that the shift to sustainable clean energy will need to involve ALL viable transit alternatives, of with ride sharing and/or autonomy being one of them. I agree fully that alone they won’t replace vast numbers of personal automobiles. I hope that adds a bit of clarity.

            2. TomArt says:

              People already are. Musk’s expectations are very realistic, at least for the following reasons:

              1) This new generation views vehicle ownership differently. There have been studies and market analyses, and automakers are in varying degrees of panic over sustaining future growth. Car ownership is not a high priority, on average, for these “millenials”.

              2) This new generation is not better off than their parents, economically, nor is there any reason for that to change, at least by the end of this decade.

              3) The current trend, at least in the US, is gravitating to cities. Populations are big, dense, and growing. Cars are so expensive, and inconvenient, in most cities that a substantial majority of urbanites don’t have them now, or at least not more than 1 (unlike suburbs where it’s 2-4 cars per household). These urbanites rely on walking, buses, taxis, light rail (subway) and friends from the burbs. Explain the success of Zipcar, and Uber, and other such sharing and decentralized models of transportation?

              Times are a-changin’. Car sharing is here and growing, in its various forms; car ownership is losing its value in critical demographics and population centers; and when combined with these trends, full computer control will significantly reduce the costs of transportation by negating human overhead.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      jmac said:

      “Taking 2015 and 2016 together, we see that some 180 million ICE will be manufactured while two years production of alternative BEV electric cars will only amount to perhaps 1 million.”

      Thanks for that dose of reality, altho you are exaggerating how bleak the situation is by ignoring PHEVs. Your numbers really underscore why we need to see sales of plug-in EVs enter the exponential growth curve, the early part of the classic “S” curve of a disruptive tech revolution.

      Linear sales growth ain’t gonna be nearly fast enough.

      1. Anon says:

        This is why there is a ‘sudden’ push for vehicle diversification announcements for Tesla. What to do with all those batteries, coming out like bullets from a machine gun… Hmmm.

  4. Mister G says:

    Wow, we are witnessing a manufacturing revolution that will spread to all vehicle manufacturers if they want to compete against Tesla. Go Elon go. Go JB go.

    1. jstack says:

      +2

  5. jmac says:

    The gang at Tesla did their homework when they looked at scaling up the battery industry for electric car production.

    Last year 90 million additional ICE were turned loose upon an unsuspecting humanity.

    Tesla understands the problem. For the electric car just to keep up with ICE production, some 45 million BEVs must be manufactured. That’s just to stay even.

    As huge as the gigafactory seems right now, several dozen more similarly sized plants will be needed to produce enough electric cars just to pull even with current piston engine production.

    According to Musk, some 60 or so additional giga-factories will be needed to produce 90 million cars a year. (current ICE production)

  6. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    The good news: Tesla is now talking about a 150 GWh pack-level production from Gigafactory 1, rather than the original target of 50 GWh! If they also plan to triple the output at the cell level, that will go from 30 GWh to 90 GWh.

    The bad news: Elon keeps talking about “improving the efficiency” of manufacturing by packing the production lines in as tightly as possible. He should read up on the history of GM’s Saturn plant. The plant was over-automated and thus lacked flexibility. Due to that lack of flexibility, GM couldn’t produce anything except the Saturn at that auto assembly factory. So when the Saturn turned out to be a marketing failure, the plant was shut down.

    What happens in a year or two, when some company comes out with a more advanced, more efficient assembly line machine… but one which takes up more floor space than the one currently in use in the Gigafactory? With everything packed in as closely as possible, it won’t be possible for Tesla to switch to the new machines without moving literally everything else out away from it!

    That is one of the reasons, possibly the main reason, why factories are not with everything wedged in as tightly as possible.

    Speaking as a Tesla fan, this really worries me. I certainly hope Gigafactory 1 won’t become obsolete as soon as GM’s Saturn auto assembly plant did!

    * * * * *

    I’m guessing the goal of packing everything in as tightly as possible is why Tesla has switched from planning Gigafactory 1 to be two floors, to now being 3 floors… apparently in the same volume of space.

    1. jmac says:

      @ push-pullmi

      Way back in 1997 a guy named Amory Lovins began to promote the use of carbon fiber in automobiles. Lovins chairs the Rocky Mountain Institute, an environment friendly think tank. Lovins is a physicist just like Musk.

      Auto companies were interested in carbon fiber since it is very lightweight and 10 times stronger than steel. No automaker was really willing to develop the composite molding process to the point of commercialization, so Lovins formed a company called Fiberforge that pioneered numerous rapid, low cost carbon fiber molding techniques. The fledgling company had a number of well-known clients including Boeing. They were in business a short time and closed in 2013. I don’t think the company ever really had a long term contract with anyone and only did limited product runs, one-off custom pieces and proof-of-concept demonstration models

      BMW has continued to explore and develop carbon fiber technology in automobiles. The have a plant for making the carbon fibers at Moses Lake, WA. The manufacturing process to make CF is energy intensive and the plant was strategically placed near Grand Coulee Dam to utilize the inexpensive hydro power.

      The Model S weighs over two tons, from 4,608 to 4,936 pounds. Imagine what kind of range and performance the car could achieve if it were built from carbon fiber rather than aluminum. The 85kw/hr Model S battery pack weighs 1200 pounds. That leaves 3208 pounds in weight that could be trimmed off the Model S for better performance, longer range.

      Musk knows about carbon fiber since 25% of the Space X rocket is made from carbon fiber. BMW is pioneering the manufacturing techniques to incorporate it into automobiles, so why isn’t Musk ?

      It’s admittedly expensive stuff, but just imagine how much further a Model S could travel if it shed 1,500 unsightly pounds.
      To me such developmental research could literally end up revolutionizing EVs because lighter weight means smaller electric motors and a smaller battery pack which further reduces weight and increases efficiency.

      Musk has apparently taken the tack that eliminating manufacturing inefficiencies will make the electric car a more viable proposition. Musk is on a self appointed mission to save planet earth. He doesn’t want to interrupt that mission to do mundane things like battery research or perfect carbon fiber uni-bodies. It’s easier just to tell the millwrights setting up the factory to push the machines closer together.

      Notice how unbelievably light the carbon fiber car frame is in the video below.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        I think that carbon fiber will be the future of auto body manufacturing. Probably eventually a lot of auto parts, not just the body. Kudos to BMW for leading the way on this.

        Not seeing that this has anything at all to do with the problems created by building a factory in such a way that it becomes difficult or impossible to make needed future changes.

        1. jmac says:

          to Pushmi

          Yes, I got a bit too poetic signing the praises of cartbon fiber.

          On the subject of factories, I think what Musk perhaps had in mind with his giga-factory was to design a “purpose built” factory tailored specifically around the production of batteries.

          This would be in contrast to just going out and renting an old run-down building somewhere, then trying to shoehorn in a bunch of equipment that doesn’t quite fit.

          Setting the equipment up with minimum spacing might make remodeling a really tough proposition as you mentioned. Also, you gotta wonder what the workers quality of life is going to be like where in a place where everybody is crawling all over each other like bees in a hive in a kind of high tech sweatshop.

  7. jmac says:

    RESISTANCE IS FUTILE…..

    Subject:

    The Borg Replicant Center, The Machine That Makes The Machines also known as Giga Factory.

    Wringing out all the inefficiencies in auto production is in itself a noble goal that will no doubt reduce the price that consumers ultimately pay for the product. Since electric cars are more expensive than their ICE counterparts, this would be very good and welcome news.

    Unfortunately, manufacturing gains and efficiencies of scale are not going to do much to change the basic physics of electric vehicles.

    What electric cars really need are battery breakthroughs, light-weighting with carbon fiber, streamlining, electric motor and controller improvements, tires with less rolling resistance, more efficient regenerative braking, and so on.
    You know— all the good stuff that electric cars have always needed.

    These remain the most crucial areas of research rather than factory improvements. Unfortunately, Musk’s status now approaches that of a demi-god in the minds of many, so that any challenge to his authority or decisions is violently rebuffed by an army of dedicated sycophants.

    Let’s see if the price of the Model S or X will come down 10 fold with Musk’s ten fold efficiency improvements.

    Resistance is futile…

  8. Kdawg says:

    Is Elon Musk trying to grow a Tony Stark beard?