We Have An Interesting Question For Tesla Fans: What Is A Gigafactory?

FEB 1 2019 BY EVANNEX 14


With so much buzz surrounding Tesla’s new Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai, some of those newer Model 3 owners might be secretly wondering — a Giga-what? So let’s take a second to explain what this moniker really means. Mike Brown at Inverse dives (head first) into this topic, reminding readers: “One of the most impressive machines from Tesla isn’t a car, but a factory.”

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Inside the lobby of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada (Image: Lifeinism)

So what exactly is this special Giga-factory? According to Brown, “Musk is believed to have first coined the term ‘Gigafactory‘ in November 2013, when he told investors during the company’s third-quarter earnings call that ‘there is going to need to be some kind of giga factory built’ to handle the company’s upcoming high-volume production vehicle, the Model 3.”

Later, “Musk went on to say that the output would need to be ‘something that’s comparable to all lithium-ion production in the world in one factory.’ The word comes from the prefix ‘giga-,’ which is used to denote a measurement that’s been multiplied by one billion. A common example of this is with the kilogram, which adds the prefix ‘kilo-‘ onto ‘gram’ to denote one thousand grams. ‘Giga’ is believed to come from the Greek word ‘gigas,’ meaning ‘giant.’ In short, Musk is saying he wants a really huge factory.”

Above: Explaining the real meaning behind Tesla’s ‘Gigafactory’ (Youtube: Inverse)

And, according to Brown, this will be a very, very big factory indeed: “When complete, the Nevada Gigafactory is expected to cover over 4.9 million square feet of space over numerous floors. This is expected to make it the largest building in the world. The building is only 30 percent complete at this stage, though, covering a space of 1.9 million square feet. The total plot of land measures five square miles.”

And output from this Gigafactory is equally impressive: “In August 2018, [Tesla] announced that it had reached an annual production rate of 20 gigawatt-hours, more power than all automakers combined… [and] Alongside the batteries, the factory produces electric motors for the Tesla Model 3, the company’s cheapest-ever car, plus the Powerwall and Powerpack energy storage systems designed to work with renewable sources.”

Above: Elon Musk on a March 2015 tour of the construction of Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, Nevada (Flickr: Steve Jurvetson)

And, Brown notes that the Nevada Gigafactory’s “planned annual production rate is set to reach 35 gigawatt-hours by 2020, exceeding the total global production of batteries in the year 2013. It’s enough to send 500,000 vehicles onto the road.” With Shanghai’s Gigafactory officially launched and talk of “building more Gigafactories, including one in Europe,” Tesla is poised to be the reigning king of batteries for the foreseeable future.


Source: Inverse

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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14 Comments on "We Have An Interesting Question For Tesla Fans: What Is A Gigafactory?"

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Must have a volume of 10^9 cubic metres

Most be able to host a minimum of 10^9 hamsters and their hamster-wheels to generate the electricity needed.

😆 Thanks for the in-joke!

“What, precisely, is a Gigafactory?”

It’s merely a marketing term. It’s whatever Tesla chooses to call a “Gigafactory”. Clearly the solar panel/ solar roof tile factory in Buffalo, NY, which Tesla has dubbed “Gigafactory 2”, has very little if anything to do with Gigafactory 1 (Nevada) or Gigafactory 3 (Shanghai), both of which apparently will be assembling cars by the end of this year… or at least that’s the plan.

It may be that Gf3 won’t produce battery cells, altho I expect battery pack assembly will happen there.

Originally I thought giga was meant to refer to the scale of battery production. E.g annual battery production in the GWh range. But then they renamed buffalo to gigafactory2. So I think it means nothing really. Why is buffalo a gigafacotry and not freemont ?

Buffalo will produce a GW worth of solar panels per year, ergo a Gigafactory. 😉 When Fremont starts to produce one billion cars per year it will be renamed a Gigafactory.

No problem. If they keep growing output at the factory by 50% per year they will reach giga car levels in only 20 years. /s

GW is a billion watts
So a Gigafactory produces over time products in the billions. A billion cells, a billion battery packs, a billion Powerwalls, a billion Powerpacks.
The volume of items measured is so large that it’s measured in the billions.

And a Tera Factory doesn’t sound as cool as a Giga-Factory.
Maybe the Tera-factory when they start terraforming Mars.

It’s subjectively 1,000 times more impressive than a Megafactory….which is subjective 1,000 more impressive than a regular old factory.

It’s where they make the gigas…duh!


Its just a factory. Any who calls it a gigafactory is doing marketing for Tesla.

Its just a factory. Any time its called something else is PR spin