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Tesla's Lithium-Ion Battery Gigafactory: What You Need To Know

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Slide showing Tesla Motors gigafactory statistics, from Feb 2014 presentation

Slide showing Tesla Motors gigafactory statistics, from Feb 2014 presentation

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This afternoon, Tesla Motors released details on its proposed "Gigafactory" to build lithium-ion cells for its future electric cars.

To provide enough cell capacity to build a projected 500,000 electric vehicles in the year 2020, Tesla would require more cells than last year's entire global production.

Hence, as CEO Elon Musk has said several times, it will need its own gigantic U.S.-based cell assembly plant, which he dubbed the "gigafactory."

MORE: Why A Gigafactory? Because Tesla Used One-Third Of All Electric-Car Batteries Last Year

The six-page presentation released by the company today can be downloaded at this link; there's also a very short blog post issued by the company.

It is quite high-level, but here are the main details you can take away from it:

  • The factory will encompass every step of battery cell and pack fabrication, from precursor materials--electrodes, separators, electrolyte, cases--to cell, module, and pack assembly
  • Tesla has already been talking to partners--most likely Panasonic and its suppliers--about collaborating on the gigaplant
  • One of the "raw material" inputs will be existing battery packs broken down during recycling
  • Cell output will be up to 35 gigawatt-hours per year, or 35 million kilowatt-hours
  • Pack output (possibly including some reused modules from recycled battery packs) will be up to 50 GWh
  • Cost per kilowatt-hour will be driven down 30 percent over current levels by the huge integrated plant
  • The factory site will cover 500 to 1,000 acres and employ up to 6,500 people
  • Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas are shown as candidate locations for the plant
  • Once a site is selected, the company expects to complete design and zoning approvals this year
  • Construction would also start this year, with equipment installation in 2016, and production launch and ramp-up during 2017

There will no doubt be an explosion of additional coverage, with industry analysts and other commentators weighing in on Tesla's audacious proposal.

MORE: Tesla Sued Over New Mexico Model S Factory That Never Was (August 2012)

But until then, bear in mind that the downloadable presentation and a handful of comments by Musk (which we've wrapped into the items above) are pretty much all that's known right now.

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