Highlights From Tesla Gigafactory Press Conference Featuring Musk, Straubel, Panasonic VP
Today marks the much anticipated grand opening of the Tesla Gigafactory. Earlier this week, CEO Elon Musk, along with CTO J.B. Straubel and Panasonic VP Yoshihiko Yamada participated in a very telling press conference.
Update (July 29th): Tesla has now completed its grand opening tourof the Gigafactory – check here take the full livestream walk-through yourself!
Topics covered included the Gigafactory, of course, but also Panasonic’s role, battery format, the Model 3, and Autopilot, among much more.
Below are some highlights from the lengthy conversation.
“The factory is the machine that builds the machine. It actually deserves more attention from creative and problem solving engineers than the product it makes. What we’re seeing, if we take a creative engineer and apply them to designing the machine that makes the machine, they can make 5 times as much headway per hour, than if they work on the product itself.”
“I used to be in charge of components five or six years ago. At that time our relationship with Tesla was one of supplier and customer. A conventional business relationship . . . But since we started discussion on the Gigafactory that’s completely changed . . . We are not the simple buyer and supplier relationship.”
“We’ve spent a lot of time on this actually. It’s kind of interesting. There are a bunch of trade offs. There are some things that get better when you make the cell size bigger, and some things that get worse. 18-650 was sort of an accident of history. That was what was standardized for early products. So we revisited all of those trade offs and came to this size (21-70), which is quite a bit bigger. If you have them next to each other, the actual volume of materials inside is substantially more. And overall it’s about cost optimization.”
“I believe we are on track to meet the half million by 2018.”
“With the pull up of the Model 3, and the volume goal to meet a half million cars by 2018, we also have had to pull up the Gigafactory schedule to supply the cells and battery packs for the Model 3 . . . What that means is for the earlier schedule for the Gigafactory, we’ve had to pull that ahead by two years. By 2018 we have to be at 35 gigawatt hours of production to support those Model 3s.”
And, the infamous, Autopilot
“I think we improved people’s safety, not just in fatalities but also injuries. We can see how it actually reduces impact velocity. It can reduce impact from 76 miles per hour to 46 miles an hour. That’s massive . . . We polled Tesla owners, do you want autopilot disabled or not. Not one person wanted it disabled. That’s pretty telling.”