Tesla pushes for three more Gigafactories

Disruptive car manufacturer and self-proclaimed "integrated sustainable energy company" Tesla has revealed that it hopes to finalise locations for at least two new Gigafactories by the end of 2017, with the possibility of adding a third being discussed.

In a fourth-quarter investor letter sent on Wednesay (22 February), Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk and chief financial officer Jason Wheeler revealed the plans for the Gigafactory expansions. The plans could see Tesla operate up to five Gigafactories, with operations at Nevada and Buffalo, New York already underway.

The letter states: “Installation of Model 3 manufacturing equipment is underway in Fremont and at Gigafactory 1, where in January, we began production of battery cells for energy storage products, which have the same form-factor as the cells that will be used in Model 3. Later this year, we expect to finalize locations for Gigafactories 3, 4 and possibly 5 (Gigafactory 2 is the Tesla solar plant in New York).”

Tesla began mass production of a new battery cell that will be used in Tesla’s energy storage products and upcoming Model 3 at its Nevada-based Gigafactory in January this year. The Buffalo factory also commenced operations in December, although it has focused on photovoltaic cells and modules for solar panels, in partnership with Panasonic, as well as glass tiles for Tesla’s innovative solar roofs.

The Nevada factory, Gigafactory One, is currently being built in stages so that manufacturing can still take place as the base expands. It is expected to be completed in 2018.

Model 3 roll-out

The investor letter also revealed that the Model 3 programme is set to start “limited” vehicle production in July, before increasing production to 5,000 vehicles each week in late-2017. By 2018, Tesla hopes to be producing 10,000 vehicles a week.

Tesla also revealed that it is collecting more data for autonomous driving than any other company, in a bid to enhance the integration of its autopilot features. In fact, Tesla is reengineering its operations ahead of the Model 3 launch.

Just two days after the Model 3 unveiling last year, pre-order sales for the model reached 276,000. Also, the company received 49% more global net orders for Model S and X vehicles compared to the year prior.

The company believes that 80% of repairs to its vehicles are “so minor that they can be done remotely”. In response, Tesla is expanding its mobile repair service to enable repairs to take place at an owner’s home and office.

Last month, Tesla president Jon McNeill hinted that Tesla could make software and information relating to repair manuals, service documents, diagnostic codes, and part information available to users and repair shops.

Matt Mace

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