- Where are Tesla’s factories based? Including Elon Musk’s gigafactories in Shanghai and Berlin
- Tesla factories: Fremont, California
- Tesla factories: Reno, Nevada
- Tesla factories: Shanghai, China
- Tesla factories: Berlin Europe
- Tesla Gigafactories – What’s the future plan?
- Tesla Gigafactories
- Upcoming Gigafactory plans
- Major hurdles in clean energy production
Where are Tesla’s factories based? Including Elon Musk’s gigafactories in Shanghai and Berlin
In a show of enormous faith in the increasing demand for electric vehicles, Elon Musk has announced and built several new Tesla factories over the past few years. We look at the details of the car maker's existing and upcoming plants
Tesla's factory in Fremonta, California (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Fully autonomous vehicles, half a million electric cars rolling out per factory each year and the biggest building in the world: Elon Musk’s plans for Tesla factories are ambitious, to say the least.
Far from keeping his cards close to his chest, the 47-year-old has been vocal about his aim to add new production sites in Nevada and potentially Europe to supplement the company’s existing factory in California.
Ground was broken in January on the £4bn gigafactory in Shanghai, with production starting in October of the same year.
With construction of such facilities set to last much of the next decade, at least, and costing billions collectively, Elon Musk will be hoping the Silicon Valley company’s investment pays off.
In light of Musk’s gamble, we take a look at the numbers behind the existing and planned Tesla factories across the globe.
Tesla factories: Fremont, California
Located in Fremont, California, the Tesla Factory, as it is known, currently comprises 5.3 million sq ft of manufacturing and office space on 370 acres of land, but will almost double in size and create thousands of new jobs in the coming years following the City of Fremont’s approval of expansion plans.
The Tesla Model S
Tesla purchased the facility in 2010 and extensively remodelled it, adding skylights to provide workers with natural light and painting the floors with white epoxy to create a clean work environment.
The first vehicle rolled off the production line in June 2012, the Model S — a seven-seat family saloon.
By the end of this year, Tesla plans to have 500,000 cars coming the factory and to fully automate its manufacturing system to make this happen, having already increased the production rate at the Fremont factory by 400% since its launch.
Tesla factories: Reno, Nevada
Tesla broke ground for its Nevada-based factory in June 2014 but does not yet have a completion date for what the company expects to be the largest building in the world by footprint at 5.8 million sq ft – the same as 101 American football fields.
Part of it is already operational, however, and serves to provide battery cells and packs critical to vehicle production. In mid-2018, battery production at Gigafactory 1 achieved an annualised rate of about 20 GWh, making it the highest-volume battery plant in the world.
To balance the rapid evolution of tech and the comparatively slow construction of the gigafactory, the production line is being made as flexible as possible to cope with changes in battery technology and architecture.
Artist’s impression of the planned Tesla gigafactory in Nevada
Nevada state law requires factory workforces to comprise at least 50% Nevadans, a target which Tesla currently exceeds with 63% of the construction team and 96% of the employee team being residents.
In 2020, the company states 10,000 people are employed at the plant, with up to 30,000 indirect jobs in surrounding regions.
It is designed to be a zero-energy facility, consuming no fossil fuels and using electric sources to power the back-up emergency generators.
The entirety of the roof will be covered in a solar array and any power not consumed during the day will be stored in powerpacks for use when needed.
Tesla factories: Shanghai, China
Tesla signed a co-operative agreement with the Shanghai municipal government on 10 July 2018 to build a gigafactory in the biggest electric vehicle market in the world, China.
The factory currently produces the Tesla Model 3 and will also start to build the Tesla Model Y, with deliveries of the latter expected from January 2021.
The massive project reportedly received $5bn (£3.9bn) worth of investment.
The gigafactory Shanghai was temporarily shut down for about two weeks on 29 January 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting China at the time. Production was restarted on 10 February.
Pre-pandemic production capacity at the Shanghai gigafactory was targeting 5,000 vehicles a week, with an annual capacity of more than 250,000 units
Production line capacity of Giga Shanghai is aimed at 5,000 cars per week, and if achieved and sustained could result in an annual capacity of more than 250,000 vehicles
In light of the ongoing trade war between the US and China, building a factory in the Far East will help Musk avoid hefty tariffs on certain materials required to produce electric vehicles.
Tesla factories: Berlin Europe
Tesla boss Elon Musk announced on 12 November, 2019, that the firm had chosen the German city of Berlin as the location for its European gigafactory.
Reports from the local environmental agency in January, 2020, suggest the plant will begin operations in July 2021.
The Berlin gigafactory is expected to produce batteries, battery packs and seats, along with drivetrain assembly. It is also expected to be employed in the final assembly of both Model 3 and Model Y EVs, along with other future models.
Analysts have predicted it could boost Europe’s battery market to about 250bn euros by 2025.
Speaking to industry magazine Auto Bild, at its Golden Steering Wheel Awards in November 2019, Musk claimed: “Brexit [uncertainty] made it too risky to put a Gigafactory in the UK.”
Tesla Gigafactories – What’s the future plan?
Elon Musk is headstrong about his vision for a world where sustainable energy fulfills a major chunk of our life’s needs.
Elon kick-started his vision with the first-ever Tesla Roadster making it to production lines in February 2008 and then completing a batch of 500 cars by June 2009.
That was an eye-opener for the world as Tesla’s battery technology and the electric powertrain for cars displayed what was coming in the future.
The Palo Alto-based company has not looked back since then, also foraying into the clean solar energy tech with Powerwall and Solar Roof.
Of course, electric cars, batteries and renewable energy technologies and their research wings are independent.
This in a way creates an ecosystem of clean energy that Elon envisions as the basis for developing clean energy technologies that are accessible to virtually everyone.
Currently, Tesla has three Gigafactories across the globe and the fourth one is under construction in Berlin, Germany with some major resistance from environmentalists and local authorities.
That said, Elon has plans to make 500,000 electric vehicles in this facility and this is on his priority list.
The Gigafactory 1 is built in Storey County, Nevada (known as Giga Nevada), Gigafactory 2 is located in Buffalo, New York (now called Giga New York), the Gigafactory 3 is erected in Shanghai, China (known as Giga Shanghai) and the Gigafactory 4 under construction in Berlin, Germany.
The Gigafactory in Shanghai started and delivered its first car in January 2020 while the Gigafactory in Storey County and the one in Buffalo have been supporting the company’s vision for the last few years. With demand for Tesla Model 3 rising in the States and the plant in Fremont, California exceeding capacity – there’s a third US Gigafactory right in the mix of future plans.
Apparently the Tesla Fremont facility initially belonged to General Motors from 1962 – 1982, before they acquired the plant in 2010. The production of Tesla Model S started rolling the facility in 2012.
Having a production facility in each of the major continents means that consumers will be able to get delivery of their cars faster and without any delays.
Having fewer territories to travel means, far less legal hurdles to cross over.
Another plus is the acceleration in the move forward towards the achievement of terawatt-hour battery (per year) producing capabilities. The million mile battery for future cars which will hold more charge and have lower price point is another move in the right direction.
Upcoming Gigafactory plans
Recently, Tesla CEO revealed his plans for an upcoming Gigafatory which will be located in Asia. Since Giga Shanghai in full capacity is already expecting to make 500,000 Model 3 and Model Y mid-sized SUV each year, the currently proposed factory in Asia will further support production of electric cars in the continent.
The plans and location of the factory is pretty unclear at this point in time, but one thing is for certain, the factory will not be built in China. Japan and South Korea seem to be the ly locations for setting up the facility, however, India could also be on the cards for its cheap resources, manpower and government’s support for clean energy initiatives.
Elon has also been suggesting about his future plans for building a factory in the central U.S. He has finalized two probable locations – Austin, Texas and Tulsa, Oklahoma for producing the futuristic-looking Cybertruck.
The scale is tipping heavily in favor of Austin which is located near the airport and major highways, for the forthcoming U.S. Gigafactory. If all goes to plan, the Tesla’s futuristic vehicle will hit the roads by 2021.
According to media reports, Tesla has modified its proposed Berlin Gigafactory project, which was purely going to produce batteries and vehicles to expand its horizon in European markets. Under the original plan, production of 500,000 cars per year was going to start in July 2021.
Now, they have removed the battery-pack production plan and the vehicles per year number has also been drastically reduced to 100,000 (or more). When complete the factory will manufacture Model Y cars initially and then later on Model 3 will also be produced.
In the proposal, the water needs have been reduced by 33 percent – which was one of the concerns of locals who are already struggling with water needs. They’ll also build a new test track which requires devouring trees in 193.27 acres as opposed to the earlier 154.54 acres. Also, they have relocated the proposed drive unit production facility to a new building.
Major hurdles in clean energy production
The end product – Tesla electric vehicle is absolutely clean when it hits the road, but the major problem is the production process.
The factories producing such vehicles have environmental impact as the processes required for manufacturing cars produces carbon emissions and pollution.
In fact, an ICCT (International Council on Clean Transportation) report states that producing an electric car has more impact on the environment than making a traditional vehicle.
Of course, after nearly two years of ownership, an EV neutralizes the overall environmental impact lifecycle – right from production to finally running it on the roads. Tesla wants to minimize the initial impact of building an electric vehicle on the environment. For this, the ultimate goal is to achieve 100 percent renewable energy in its Gigafactory operations.