Tesla Gigafactory Not So Giga Yet


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The current factory, which seems gargantuan, is only a sliver of the final project. How will employees navigate such a huge place? Tesla should consider a monorail that wraps around the entire building. And a pneumatic tube network for documents. And people. Yes, how ’bout on-site hyperloop? Now that’s vertical (horizontal) integration.


Tesla may also need an on-site crisis hotline, and a team of shrinks. Why? For the inevitable moments when employees trek across the entire plant to perform some task — and suddenly forget why they made the trip. It’s happened to all of us, after walking only a few feet, and it’s really frustrating.

The next section is already plotted.

The next section is already plotted.

*Editor’s Note: This and countless other Tesla-related posts appear on TeslaMondo. Check it out here.

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69 Comments on "Tesla Gigafactory Not So Giga Yet"

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It’s funny that a Tesla-centric site finally covers this.

I have been writing for months that only a pilot is being built, therefore Tesla is not ahead of schedule on the entire project.

And that’s why low-end Model3 options will only arrive by 219-2020. Facts, not FUD.

Tesla doesn’t have the capacity to deliver so many Model3 cars because the Gigafactory is at only 14% of projected capacity – it will take years and billions more to complete the missing 86%.

Worthless opinions, TESLA can start delivering from 1k cars/month easily even NOW, while getting to production of 45k cars/month will be viable in 2019-2020.

It’s easy enough to follow further progress once the pilot plant is open for business.

So far there’s no additional construction going on. Once that starts, it will take 2-3 years to finish these additional sections until cells can be produced.

And they said that they wouldn’t be delivering at their desired peak until 2020, so everything sounds right on schedule to me – what the heck are you talking about?

Delivering his disinformation, hate and FUD as usual

Yes, it’s easy to label everything as “FUD” if you disagree with the content.

The rest of the world isn’t sleeping until 2020.
Tesla keeps comparing its battery plant (stat by 2020, and first they have get fresh billions to finish the plant, see their current balance sheet, that’s another question) to old 2013 statistics.

Batteries will be ultra-competitive by 2020 from big Asian suppliers with contracts with everyone from Audi, GM to Porsche and new entrants like Dyson from the UK:

” Dyson Challenges Tesla With $1.4 Billion Battery Tech Investment ”

Note that Dyson uses/invests in new tech beyond Li-Ion.

Tesla is ahead of schedule on building the Pilot Plant.

At first, they were going to build the entire building then start moving manufacturing equipment in.

Now they will build a section and start equipping before starting another section.

Makes sense if you want to acceleration manufacture of battery cells.

“Tesla is ahead of schedule on building the Pilot Plant.”

Only that Tesla convenienty leaves out the word ‘pilot’ in all their PR regarding the Gigafactory.

Again, most Model3 reservation holders (especially those who don’t tick a lot of options) will be in for a nasty surprise when they get their shipment date.

What I find odd is that Tesla built the lobby/entrance for its “pilot” Gigafactory in a location that will be right smack in the middle/inside of a completed full-sized Gigafactory, instead of building the lobby/entrance along an outside wall that won’t be affected by construction of the rest of the Gigafactory.

If the full-sized Gigafactory is supposed to be completed in less than four years, how the heck are visitors going to use that lobby/entrance when the rest of the Gigafactory is constructed around that lobby/entrance? Conspiracy theorists will probably say that Tesla never intended to build a full-sized Gigafatory.

Exellent point, Sherlock! The “Giga” was for $2B capital raise only. The GIGA factory will of course, never be built, as the $2B have gone to cover losses.


Obviously the main entrance needs to be on the same side of the building as the parking lot. When the full-sized building is constructed, they’ll need to build a new lobby, as part of the factory will occupy the space now being used as a parking lot.

I would have thought that, too, was obvious.

Sven, anyone who actually thought Tesla would build a giant empty shell before Model 3’s production even started (let alone reached its peak years later) is an idiot. It’s a complete waste of capital.

2020 was the goal all along. Look at the original PR image:

The meaningless quotes you cited are typical from media to create drama.

You’re calling Elon Musk an idiot? I agree that it’s a waste of capital to build a giant empty shell before Model 3’s production reached its peak years later, but Elon has been know to burn cash at Tesla at alarming rates, and he can be quite stubborn. Luckily, the finance guys at Tesla were able to change Elon’s mind and change the plan from building the Gigafactory in one shot to building it in segments. Please explain to me why Tesla’s chart/graphic for the original “Gigafactory Projected Timeline” has all construction ending by the beginning of 2016 and shows production starting in 2017 and reaching “500k Veh/Yr” in 2020. If the Gigafactory was always supposed to be built in segments, then why isn’t there any construction on Tesla’s chart of the additional segements being built from 2016 to 2020? Tesla’s chart clearly shows that Tesla originally intended to build the entire Gigafactory (giant empty shell) in one shot, with construction ending in the beginning to 2016. Mint said: “The meaningless quotes you cited are typical from media to create drama.” Those “meaningless quotes” about Tesla originally planning to build the Gigafactory in one shot were direct quotes, recently made… Read more »

Oops, I forgot to post the link to Tesla’s chart/graphic for the original “Gigafactory Projected Timeline.”


Here’s another quote from a Tesla spokesman. In April 2015, TheStreet interviewed Tesla’s communications chief, Ricardo Reyes, and asked him about the completion date for the Gigafactory.

“When asked for a more specific date for the Gigafactory’s completion, Reyes said late 2016 or early 2017.”


Sometime after April 2015, Tesla changed it’s plan from building a “giant empty shell” Gigafactory, to building the Gigafactory in segments so that it could start battery production faster.

tftf said:

“Tesla convenienty [sic] leaves out the word ‘pilot’ in all their PR regarding the Gigafactory.”

If the current 14% of the total planned Gigafactory footprint translates to 14% of the planned total output of the Gf, or somewhere in the ballpark of that, then what you’re calling a mere “pilot plant” is planned to have bigger capacity than any current battery factory in the world.

If I was Tesla, I wouldn’t call it a mere “pilot plant” either. It’s already gearing up to be the biggest battery factory anywhere, and it’s gonna get much, much bigger over the next 2-4 years.

Maybe you should count battery manufacturing capacity by VENDOR / brand, not by a single plant.

Tesla’s competitors have MULTIPLE battery plants instead of one – and the list keeps growing every day:

” Dyson Challenges Tesla With $1.4 Billion Battery Tech Investment ”


That’s 3X as much as Tesla and Panasonic invested in the GF so far.

By 2020, there will lots of additional capacity by Asian battery suppliers and new entrants with new battery tech as needed.

Yes I don’t think it’s wise to say

“The gigafactory is at this much production therefore they will only be able to produce this many cars.”

There is key missing information in this formula like. How much supply is there outside the Gigafactory which is available to Tesla? The answer is: a lot.

There is so much money invested in 18650 battery factories and they are popping up everywhere. China already has its share of “gigafactories” producing 18650 batteries.

You also must consider production capacity as a metric at the end of a very complicated system, one that includes business motivation. You have no idea why their capacity is what it is, and how quickly it could get where it needs.

Just too much missing information IMO.

But on the good news, supply is increasing quickly for lithium-ion batteries worldwide.

“The answer is: a lot.”

But Tesla insists/insisted that it can lower battery costs by 30% thanks to this new plant.

If sourcing batteries from other suppliers or Panasonic is that easy (including lowering costs) then why build the Gigafactory in the first place?

“The gigafactory, which will eventually turn out batteries for 500,000 vehicles, should cut their cost by another 30%, according to Tesla (see chart). Mr Musk reckons that two-thirds of that saving will come from scale alone—the new factory will double the world’s lithium-battery output—with the rest down to improved manufacturing technology.”

This was original claim, sounds more like 20% to me. Current advertising may claim whole 30%, but do you seriously believe these numbers are more than just a wild guess assuming competitors will stay in the same place forever?

Strange Tesla has been saying this from the beginning and you state it like it is some secret or new revelation.
Tesla is on schedule because this was the plan all along. Why build a factory with over capacity when you can build it in stages to match consumption. When they are producing enough cells to match production at this level they start adding more to the factory to match growth. As for the additional billions of dollars that cost is spread across several more years and two multi-billion dollar companies. No revelation, just good business.

Exactly – nothing new here.

Nope, Tesla’s original plan was to build a full-sized Gigafactory all at once that would have unused capacity when it opened, but Tesla expected to quickly ramp up production capacity to meet its forecast demand for powerwalls and 500,000 EVs by 2020. A Tesla spokesman confirmed that Tesla changed its plans from a constructing the “whole building all at once” to constructing it in a “modular fashion” so that it could “begin producing [batteries] faster.” The following three paragraphs are directly from a news article about the tour of the inside of the Gigafactory for reporters: “About 14 percent of the total expected factory space is constructed. The full project is expected to be completed in 2020, a Tesla spokesman said. That’s an adjustment from the original construction schedule that pegged a completion date in October 2017.” “‘Originally, we were going to build the whole building all at once, but that didn’t make a lot of sense,’ a spokesman said. ‘We needed to begin producing faster.’” “‘We are stepping into it in modular fashion so that as we build we can learn from what we’ve built,’ he added.” http://www.rgj.com/story/money/business/2016/03/18/get-sneek-peak-inside-teslas-reno-area-gigafactory/81978520/ Below is a Tesla’s chart/graphic for the original “Gigafactory Projected Timeline”… Read more »

That only refers to the factory space (basically the empty shell outside), not the actual production capacity (which is what tftf is referring to). The production capacity was always going to scale gradually to 500k units per year by 2020 and it seems to be ahead of schedule.

It doesn’t make sense to have idle equipment sitting for 4 years and I guess they decided it doesn’t makes sense for the empty floor space either. If they leave the rest of the space unconditioned it might not cost them much in maintenance but they have to consider things like 4 extra years of wear on the structures, property taxes, and tying up capital that isn’t being used.

sven said: “Tesla’s original plan was to build a full-sized Gigafactory all at once that would have unused capacity when it opened, but Tesla expected to quickly ramp up production capacity…” The word “capacity” in relation to a factory generally means production capacity. Yet you keep using the word to mean merely empty space inside the building. Given your history of repeated Tesla bashing, it looks like you’re doing that deliberately to insinuate that Tesla is behind schedule, or insinuate that somehow things aren’t going according to plan. If that’s not your intent, sven, then kindly stop mis-using the term “capacity” when referring to the Gigafactory. Honestly, who cares whether the full-sized factory shell is going to be built out this year, or over the next couple of years? What’s important is the total kWh of cells the factory will produce, not how many square feet is enclosed by walls and ceiling. In case you haven’t noticed, sven, Tesla keeps talking about different sizes for the finished Gigafactory. Maybe they’re gonna make it bigger by 35%, or 50%, or even 100%. I’ve seen all three figures thrown around. So if Tesla’s plans are still in flux, it’s just good business… Read more »

GreenCarReports, one of the most respected green car sites on the internet, has been closely following Tesla, and should therefore know the history behind the construction of the Gigafactory. GreenCarReports has this to say on the subject:

“About 14 percent of the total planned factory space is constructed, with the rest expected to be completed by 2020.”

That’s a bit later than the original October 2017 target date, and may call into question some of Tesla’s other plans.”

“. . .”

“But Tesla implied its strategy will actually help get battery production underway faster.”

The company originally planned to build the entire Gigafactory at once, but then opted to do it in segments so that the completed portions of the factory could start producing cells and packs right away, a spokesperson said.”


Go away troll. Eff-uPushmi, I’m not feeding you anymore.

Hopefully, the day will soon come when your constant trolling finally gets you banned from InsideEVs.

Still quacking like a Tesla basher, I see.

You must have struck a nerve there Pushmi, he’s now resorting to the old ‘I know you are, but what am I’ childish rant!

Still trolling, I see. Obvious troll is obvious.

Sounds like you’re blowing smoke up everyone’s *s*…Therefore., I HOPE YOU ARE WRONG FOR TESLA’S SAKE!

If past precedent is any indication, Tesla will alternate builds. They won’t produce the highest-option vehicles in perpetuity at the complete expense of base models.

You might find some fools on other sights, but a significant percentage of us actually pays attention.

We will see how many (first-time, not following Tesla or Tesla news) Model3 buyers – or rather reservation holders – realize they will only get their car by 2019-2020.

What’s you’re reading level? I said that Tesla won’t do that – your assumption is unreasonable and not supported by past precedent. Troll.

Yes, tftf is a serial anti-Tesla troll.

The best thing about it is his short position he constantly fails to disclose here is circling the bowl as we come up on the M3 reveal in a week.



“We will see how many (first-time, not following Tesla or Tesla news) Model3 buyers – or rather reservation holders – realize they will only get their car by 2019-2020.”

So what you’re saying is that right from the start, demand for the Model ≡ will be so high that the backlog of would-be orders will stretch for at least a couple of years!

Woohoo! Go Tesla!

Here’s hoping you’re right, tftf.
😀 😀 😀

What “theory/facts”?

Tesla from the beginning claimed 2020 till 500k of anual sales are reached.

You looked so hard for conspiracy that You have forgotten to check official press releases 😀

They do not need that much space for selling 10-30k Model 3 in 2017…

Of course if You have better info than that….

Poisoning the Well.

Your sitting on a computer chair typing away a dumb opinion generated by your strange brain while the Gigafactory is being built by productive people.


“Tesla doesn’t have the capacity to deliver so many Model3 cars because the Gigafactory is at only 14% of projected capacity – it will take years and billions more to complete the missing 86%.”

It’s really amazing the way that Tesla bashers can take a plan Tesla has been publicizing for years, and make it sound as if somehow it’s a bad thing. But I guess that shows they’ve given up on their previous bashing claim that the Gigafactory will never be built. Amazing how often Tesla bashers move the goal posts! 😀

The plan is, and has been, to ramp up to full production a the Gigafactory in 2020. So yes, that will take years and billions of dollars… just as planned.

And it’s well known that the Gigafactory project is progressing ahead of schedule.

Go Tesla!

They’re just ON schedule… they’re not AHEAD OF schedule.

Much worse would be BEHIND schedule… but they’re a long way from that.

Since I get a connection refused error on the powerwall thread. I try it here :

Wouldn’t it be nice to see the gf push out enough cells for enough power walls to overcome the need for nuclear power plants as base load solution?

Right now we are seeing that despite all the technical solutions the main risk of operating a nuclear power plant (the human factory) will never be eliminated.

Take a moment to look at what measures are taken at Belgian nuclear power plants right now.

Imo it is not worth the risk. We (humanity) should get rid of nuclear power plants as fast as possible.

Gigafactory is just one piece in this puzzle. V2H another.

Should be ok now to post (it was site-wide), we just pulled down the servers for ~5 mins to add capacity – comment/database connection had to be taken offline during. All good again…so ready to stream Model 3 event now, (=

Hope my EDGE connection can handle that 😉

And BTW I am glad there is a very reasonable explanation for the down time.

(for some seconds the nuts part of me was a little bit scared to have shut down the comments section due to the usage of the words Belgian nuclear power plants…)

HeisenberghtNUTS said: “Wouldn’t it be nice to see the gf push out enough cells for enough power walls to overcome the need for nuclear power plants as base load solution?” Batteries don’t generate power, they just store it. Batteries may be an important part of helping solar, geothermal, and tidal power to become major contributors to grid power, but intermittent sources by their very nature will never be base load power plants. Nor can batteries alone replace even one single nuclear power plant. “Right now we are seeing that despite all the technical solutions the main risk of operating a nuclear power plant (the human factory) will never be eliminated.” Of course it won’t. That’s true of every industry; none will ever be completely safe. Why is it that commercial nuclear power is the only industry for which absolutely no risk to public health is said to be acceptable? The Union Carbide battery factory disaster in India killed, over the long term, an estimated 16,000 people (source below). That’s four times as many as what the WHO estimates for the total long-term international death rate from the worst nuclear power disaster ever: Chernobyl. Yet there were no calls to stop… Read more »

I had a friend who once worked for an airplane manufacturer back in the 60’s and he was located in one those HUGE hangars that had been converted into an office space. A long walkway through the middle led to the breakroom/cafeteria and whenever some of the most appealing young ladies took their break, the entire work floor full of engineers would put down their slide rules to admire the passing view.

An accountant type estimated it cost the company about $20k in lost work time every time those cute secretaries got coffee!

That lost productivity calculation is one of the fallacies that drive me nuts. Just because you’re paid x$/hr doesn’t mean you lose that in real dollars when work isn’t being done for a short amount of time. It just doesn’t work that way.

Conversely, Tesla drives their engineering to work 60+ hour weeks and it shows in their rate of technology development.

Productivity does matter, but it is more than coffee placement.

and error rate…more is not better for most people – there is a very modest subset of personalities that can thrive in an environment like that, and even then, not for months at a time. It’s not healthy, and it’s not very bright.

It’s true that not everyone can be driven like
Elon Musk drives himself.

Maybe everyone can if they were given anywhere near the the amount/value of stock options that Elon gets for working 60+ hours per week.

You can’t just throw money at the problem.
Humans are not machines.

Forget time and motion and employ ugly people !

They should fire that accountant. The belief that an engineer’s productivity is in any way proportional to the amount of time he spends working is totally idiotic!

On the other hand if it was anti proportional my productivity right now would be stretch (x=1.2,(rotate(90)”8″)

But the cute secretaries probably help cut down the turnover rate 🙂

The accountant forgot to put “inspiration” into his calculation. That cancels out time lost.

Document management from the 1920s?? Pneumatic tubes? Seriously?

If only we had some way to send some form of communication that didn’t require paper, that was wireless, and near instant.

What a world that would be!

Actually, bicycles would be the smartest way to get around a factory that huge.

For another size comparison, check out


Yep, our local paper company has a tricycle fleet inside its papermill.

It’s absolutely brilliant and efficient.

Loboc said:

“Document management from the 1920s?? Pneumatic tubes? Seriously?”

Much more flexible to build mini transportation pods inside the factory that operate autonomously

How will employees navigate such a huge place?

Many large facilities use trikes, pedal powered with a basket between the two rear wheels. Inexpensive, healthy and energy concious all in one.

Ummm bicycles. That’s what virtually every other large factory uses. They are fast, small, require no expensive capital, and cheap.

Let’s look at it like this, it allowed Tesla to raise billions on the stock market. Elon is a genius.

Hyperloop? Nonsense, Tesla Motors will use nothing as low-tech as that for on-site transportation!

The Gigafactory will use the electric “evaporators” from “Duck Dodgers in the 24-1/2th Century” for instant point-to-point transportation.


Not sure if anyone is that prophetic without help from above…But it would’ve been beyond genius to obtain options to buy strips of very inexpensive desert “nowhere” land across hundreds of miles ( think people who bought “junk” strips of property in Texas and ended up putting up a hundred million dollar billboard business upon them ). Property nobody wanted. Tesla could’ve discretely began buying up narrow corridors of property in anticipation of the Nevada Gigafactory deal. Then, they could allow the winning Hyperloop company – completely unconnected to Tesla – a lease deal to build hyperloop tubes from Reno to Tahoe, to Fremont, CA to the current Gigafactory location. What synergy! Bring your workers to and from the factory along with cargo Loop Carriers bringing materials to and from – at 700mph! Talk about buzz! This system would be world-reknown and surely oft-copied…Hopefully paying Hyperloop Inc. – maybe payment could be passed to Musk via stock… Sure the writer may have been joking with the quip about Hyperloops…But he may truly be onto something here. There are huge expanses of desert between important points and the G-Factory. It would be a groundbreaking system. Can you see new Tesla distribution… Read more »