Tesla CEO Leaks Out More Details on Lithium-Ion Battery Giga Factory (w/video)

JAN 28 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 56

Model S at Tesla HQ

Model S at Tesla HQ

Sometime next month, Tesla Motors will likely reveal additional details on the lithium-ion giga factory that Tesla CEO Elon Musk first announced during its conference call a few months back.

Panasonic Stand at 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

Panasonic Stand at 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

Here’s a refresher of that conference call, focusing only on the giga factory discussion:

“Panasonic is also our primary partner, but when it comes to the high volume 3rd generation vehicle it’s clear that there is going to need to be incremental production capacity created at this existing location today, so we are in the process of figuring that out. There is going to need to be some kind of giga-factory built.”

“…this isn’t the right time to talk in detail about our plans for kind of a giga-factory but to say, we are acknowledging the fact that one needs to be built and we are looking at a variety of different locations.

I don’t think permitting is going to be the driver here. This is going to be a very green factory. There going to be a lot of solar power. It’s going to have essentially zero emissions and there are no toxic elements that are going to come out of this factory and we will build in recycling capability right into the factory…we are trying to figure out what’s the right way to do version one at this giga factory and we want to be thoughtful about it as it is going to be a really giant facility, like we are doing that something that’s comparable to all lithium-ion production in the world in one factory.”

In a recent interview with CNBC (watch the video below starting at the 8-minute mark), Musk leaked out a few more minor details on the giga factory.

Basically, Musk stated that planning for the giga factory is well underway and that by sometime next month, a state will be selected for construction of the factory.

Which begs the question, which state do you think it will be in.

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56 Comments on "Tesla CEO Leaks Out More Details on Lithium-Ion Battery Giga Factory (w/video)"

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Nevada! Business friendly, lots of open land, close by truck and rail to Tesla’s Fremont HQ to transport the finished batteries, very efficient if you were to build a lot of solar power to run the factory, and Lithium is actively mined in Nevada (we may have as much as 30M metric tonnes of lithium carbonate, which would be enough for more than 100 million Tesla Model S 85kWh batteries).

Disclaimer: I’ve invested some money in a Nevada-based Lithium mining company. I’m hopeful Musk builds the gigafactory on the west coast and uses domestic supplies of Lithium and other elements needed to create the batteries… and that the company’s stock goes up!

Electric cars use around 1kg of lithium carbonate per kwh, so if your figure of 30 million tons is correct that should do for around 300 million Tesla’s, rounding them up to 100kwh each. That is a higher figure than anything I have seen though; ‘Hectorites: At the McDermitt Caldera on the Oregon/Nevada border, Western Uranium Corporation are re-examining seven lenses of hectorite clay originally drilled by Chevron Resources. Drilling at the most southerly site, the PCD lens, is confirming the tonnage and grade indicated by Chevron. This lens has a length of about 2 kms, a width of approximately one kilometer and a thickness of 100 metres under shallow overburden. Higher grade portions of the deposit grade over 0.35% Li and the cut off used in the reserve calculation is 0.275% Li. Chevron reported that the total resource contained 23.9 billion lbs of carbonate – 2 million tonnes of Li and test work on recovery methods is currently being undertaken. Hectorites are known to occur elsewhere in the western United States but no reserve data exist.’ http://lithiumabundance.blogspot.co.uk/ 2 million tons of lithium is about 10 million tons of lithium carbonate, so that would power 100 million or so Tesla’s,… Read more »

There is what is advertized as the largest
industrial park in the world just a few miles east of reno. This is between Reno and Fewrnly
Nevada. With an available population of workers. This is the perfect place for the plant.

Smart investment 🙂

Given the solar power comment, I’ll guess somewhere in the southwest. Maybe New Mexico?

Nevada would be fine for sunshine.

Yes it would. And to a Northeasterner, Nevada is one of those southwest states 😉

I was unaware of the Lithium deposits in NV (Anthony must have submitted his post seconds before mine), but given that NV probably holds the largest lithium deposits in the US, I will change my guess accordingly…

Oregon might not be so sunny, but has a lot going for it:
It has a lot of renewable energy, is heavily into electric cars, and has ports so making export of heavy batteries easy, especially to China where Musk aims to sell a lot of cars.
Nevadan resources are right on the border with Oregon.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

It’s also full of NIMBYs and income tax :/

Nevada’s got a lot more light, a lot more space, and a lot lower cost structure.. Not much water though, at least in Vegas..

Oregon has areas that are very sunny. West of the Cascades does not have much sun but east of the Cascades it is high desert and gets a lot of sun.

I hope it’s not a state whose politicians have banned Tesla…

Also, I hope they set up a lithium-compound recycling operation there as well. Argonne National Labs expert estimated that recycling (I believe it was) LiCO3 can reduce the carbon footprint of battery-pack production by half.

I would be good if it were a state which banned Tesla; could get them to change something.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Might be a nice bargaining chip for getting some traction in Texas.. Well, that and the pickup truck 😉

For fellow nerds, here is battery testing as carried out by VW for proving those used in the E-Up car:

The start is a bit basic, but as it goes on they really get into the nitty-gritty of the testing regime and give hints of some of the directions that they are progressing in.

Panasonic will also of course have been doing umpteen tests, so it is all a very painstaking process!

Very impressive educational Video, Davemart.

In the past I’ve poked some friendly fun at Volkswagen’s ‘over promising and under delivering’. Perhaps the marketing dept has gotten a bit ahead of the engineering dept.

However, VW is to be congratulated for publicly addressing the problem of Lithium Plating during cold charging, as a for instance, and for educating the public on ongoing expected technology advances (33% increase in capacity for a similarly sized cell is most definitely a Technology Advance).

Congratulations Again!

Thanks for sharing!

A very informative video. Good graphics. Interestingly, it appears all German battery engineers have the looks of top models. I had no idea.

I wasn’t going to bother with the video til you told me about the top models. 🙂

i think it might be in europe, tschechien.

Elon has already stated the first Giga Factory will be in North America and that he is looking at different states in which it may be placed. He did not say province either.

Elon also said it may make sense to have the first full manufacturing plant outside the United in China.

I hope it is in my state of Texas, maybe I can get a job there. I won’t move to the “People’s Republik of Kalifornia.”

I am hoping he is using it as a lobbying token to get the Texas laws changed. Unfortunately, they don’t vote again for another year and a half.

Texas is anti-EVs and anti-Tesla, no way they don’t deserve it.

I’ve been skeptical of Tesla’s ability to make a lower cost model . . . and the real key is to get the battery prices down with scale & automation. Perhaps it can be done with the Gigafactory. If he can pull that off then Tesla will have truly done something revolutionary.

Well.. done another thing revolutionary. 🙂

How would building a factory to take advantage of scale and automation be considered revolutionary?

First automaker to make their own cells.
Biggest (by far) battery plant in the world.

Because if it’s a success, it’ll enable the Model E, which will revolutionize the car market and in a sustainable way.

It’s cold in Norway … apparently Teslas are finicky when charging in sub-zero temps there.

http://www.newsinenglish.no/2014/01/20/norwegian-winter-parks-popular-tesla-electric-cars/

Of course, you realize this is a separate issue. Tesla’s Universal Mobile Connector, whether the single or 3 phase units are flakey in the cold (Canadians in upper ONtario and Quebec can vouch for that).

The model S and Roadster both provide adequate battery heating when charging in cold temperatures to prevent the afformentioned problem of unwanted Lithium Plating. The Norwegian problem is how do you get the juice to the car in the first place, which has been addressed on other blogs.

Did Obama just say “natural gas CARS and trucks”?

Tesla needs an NREL state, for solar, which isolates the southwest. Nevada perhaps needs the jobs most.

They still keep saying America energy independence. This is wrong and it would be North America Energy Independence, perhaps by 2030 or later. Maybe. Until then, it is a ploy for helping boost fracking.

You mean America is going to install enough renewable energy to be approach energy independence by 2030? Great! This I gotta see!

North American Energy Independence is very hard to achieve. But politicians use the word “American Energy Independence”. We still need to import millions of bbls of oil from Canada and Mexico to survive our energy requirements.

Yeas by Canada and Mexico are friends of US. It is a huge difference buying Oil from our enemies.

If Canada and Mexico are both friends of the U.S., then why is there a big wall/fence on the U.S./Mexico border but no wall/fence on the U.S./Canada border? Just saying.

Because Canadians and Americans are pretty happy in their own countries as it stands.

With the US continuing to grow in terms of immigrants and industry, somewhat, electric and fuel usage will continue to grow. I doubt “we” ever become energy independent.

Would this be a massive battery pack assembly plant? or a massive battery manufacturing plant co-financed by Panasonic or Samsung. If it is the former then California would make sense the later could be anywhere but would probably not count as a “Tesla” factory.

Clearly like everyone else I want it near me (Melbourne, Victoria). Lots of lithium and sunshine in Australia. If it is simply a battery pack assembly plant then I fail to see the excitement, a room full of robots filling plastic boxes really isn’t all that much fun, even if they are solar powered.

Elon is all about made in the USA 🙂

I would assume that since Tesla has the capital and Panasonic or Samsung has the know-how, it would be a Tesla owned cell manufacturing factory with an Apple-style supplier financial setup. This would mean Tesla would own the factory (land, buildings, etc.) and then they would finance the cost of the battery manufacturing equipment for Panasonic or Samsung or whoever they go with to manufacture batteries (the real capital intensive part of the overall factory cost). Then with each cell delivered, the vendor would slowly take ownership of the equipment and eventually own the manufacturing capacity. When the 6 years are up and they want to move to the next step-change in battery technology (Li-Air? something else we don’t yet know?), the vendor would own the equipment and would be able to remove it from the factory and use it to build down-market cells for other things, and Tesla would start again by financing the next round of manufacturing equipment.

Interesting Anthony!!

Recyclable and raw material in, batteries out.
It would manufacture the cells and the batteries in a single location to minimize logistical issues and they’ll use solar in a hot location because it’s energy intensive. Note that the solar doesn’t have to be all PV. They’ll need more heat than electricity. I figure he’s done a bit of math.

The only conundrum is do they have 200,000 pre orders for all the Model Es or is this getting ahead of the market? About the only way to judge demand is post a true price for the base Model E and then take pre orders now.

Since most battery firms are moving to China and most cars sold will be in asia for inexpensive models, the “state” will probably be a most-favored nation of either China or Mexico.

I don’t think there is any question at this point.. If they can produce what they claim they will be producing, they can sell at least 100,000 per year right off the bat.

I think 100,000/year from the get go is a high prediction.

Especially if base price is $35k.

1M luxury cars sold in the USA alone each year. With a solid 150 mile range and Supercharger capability, the only question is whether they can hit the target pricepoint, because I know it would be quiet, smooth, responsive, handle well and have good performance with a feel that only electrics have. It’ll also have pleny of cargo space.

Luxury cars normally make buyers ask “Can I afford to buy it and run it?”. With an electric car people ask “Can I afford to buy it? Will it work for me?” Tesla has the tech to answer “Yes” to the second and hitting target would make many more people answer “Yes” to the first question.

Moses Lake, WA. Has 194 sunny days on average…more than Los Angeles on average. Electricity and land are very cheap….reason why BMW has opened shop there. Carbon footprint is less.

Arizona owns the sun. I hope the new giga battery factory is in Arizona. Arizonans catch on fast. They knows Tesla is an American manufactured car, employs thousand of Americans and runs on 100% on good old American electricity. A giga factory that employs many Arizonans and that the factory runs mostly on solar, a location in Arizona makes perfect sense. The Arizonan climate is also a great year round climate. Air conditioning solved Arizonas warmer temperature months. Arizona is universally located with great transportation routes. I-10 is open all year round. There is also a large workforce to draw upon.

“The Arizonan climate is also a great year round climate. Air conditioning solved Arizonas warmer temperature months.”

I’m sorry (I know this is way off topic), but this is like saying that Canada is a great year round climate. Heating solved Canadians’ colder temperature months.

Utah!

Nevada or even Mexico would be good choices. Governor Brown has(sadly)made California one of the most unfriendly business states in the Union. Maybe Elon will feel sorry for Jerry’s Kid’s(Public Unions),and build here anyway…bringing us one step closer to his excellence’s Socialist Nirvana! Everyone…hop-on the train to no-ware land!!! Weeeeeeee!!! : )

Dumb.

What I find interesting about all of this is that Elon Musk is talking about building it in a state. I think most likely he will build it next to the Tesla factory in that he bought 30 acres of land that is next to a major rail line and next to the Tesla factory itself.Also Tesla would save on shipping costs if they could bring the mined lithium from Nevada and make it into batteries and battery packs and build a conveyer belt system that would take them from the battery factory to the car factory next door. Also there was a new lithium mining company that had found a way to refine lithium carbonate out mineral water that comes out of the Geothermal plants near the Salton Sea in California and they where beginning to produce several hundred tons of lithium on a commercial scale this year. If these factors are taken into a account Tesla could produce all the batteries it needs with 200 miles of it.

These 30 acres of land you mentioned, are they in Nevada? and are they not being used now? if so – seems obvious no?

The 30 acres of land is not in Nevada but right next to the existing Tesla factory in California. It was a piece of land that was between the Tesla factory and the railroad tracks that run though the area.